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Principal's Message

November 1, 2018


Puma Parents…


Happy November!  The first quarter of school has passed and with the Thanksgiving and Winter holidays fast approaching, our school year will quickly be half over very soon.  Yes, half over!


I continue to be so proud of the work going on here at Pine Valley… equally, by both staff and students.  About 5 years ago, our staff began some very important work that involved a new process to respond to students that may not learn something the first time it is taught.  We call this structure, Response to Intervention, or RTI.  Our Tuesday/Thursday Tutorials are evidence of that structure, but RTI at it’s foundational level has to do with strategies that happen every day in your child’s classes. RTI is designed for use when making decisions in both general education and special education, creating a well-integrated system of instruction and intervention guided by student assessment data.  Over the last 5 years, we have not only provided flex time (Tuesday/Thursday Tutorials), but we have created common preps for teachers to plan lessons and assessments together, as well as created additional classes that provide support at a fundamental level.  As myself, Mrs. Bullock and Mrs. Chaplan walk into classes, it is extremely gratifying to see everything coming together as teachers teach with purpose and student learning is targeted.  Teachers continue to analyze and tweak what they believe to be “Essential” and student learning targets are articulated for students.  What teachers want kids to learn is literally posted in classrooms and/or in student notebooks.  To the best extent possible, we want to prioritize information for students to take away the ambiguity in regards to what is “most important.”  After consistently working within these expected parameters over the last few years, we are seeing the positive results and I could not be more proud!  We continue to see our CAASPP scores rise, but more importantly, students are getting what they need and staff is getting the well-deserved satisfaction from their work.  As new staff and students come to Pine Valley and needs change, we will continue to support all involved as we share in the challenges of this work.


Many of you have heard me reference the work of Carol Dweck and her book, Mindset.  The book is 10 years old now, but the work still stands for itself.  Her research has lead to many scholarly articles and other books that support the premise that intelligence can be developed and is not fixed.  Simply put, when students believe that they can “grow their brains,” they learn more.  Hence, the process of learning should be valued over the end results. 


Unfortunately, the traditional structure of the public school system and the grading scales we continue to use to “measure” achievement doesn’t value this premise.  Probably due to tradition, for years we have recognized students each semester who get a 3.5 GPA or higher by deeming them “Honor Roll” students.  As a staff, we have discussed this tradition and are questioning if our middle school educational philosophies match these actions of recognition.  If we want to promote work ethic and effort (the process of “Growing our Brains”) and believe in our Mission Statement that Pine Valley exists to embrace, empower and educate life-long learners, we have to ask ourselves what place the traditional “Honor Roll” has on our campus.  Not only have I discussed this issue with staff, but I have also addressed it with our PTA.  Conversations will continue, but I wanted the community to know that Pine Valley staff and parent leadership are struggling to make sure that we are acknowledging students in ways that don’t define them… rather than inspire them to keep working hard for the right reasons.  In the interim, please expect an email next week notifying you if your child made Honor Roll for the Spring 2018 semester (current 7th and 8th graders).  In the past we have acknowledged our HR recipients in their Core classes but we will not be doing that this year.  Attached to the email will be your child’s certificate.  Your input is always welcome as we continue this conversation.


Before losing your attention… I wanted to invite you to a pre-PTA meeting regarding our required annual LCAP meeting with parents.  The meeting is set for 6-7pm on Monday, November 5.  An email with more detail was sent earlier.  I know your evenings get busy, but your input is always important as we make decisions at Pine Valley and across the district.


Finally, just a safety and courtesy reminder for parents and our students.  We know that drop off and pick up times can get stressful, but there have been reported verbal conflicts between parents in the back-parking lot.  Please do not park in restricted areas that may block traffic and always remember to pull forward.  Even if somebody is “breaking a rule,” please be patient and kind as you communicate your concerns.  Always remember that OUR kids are present and are always watching.  Also, if your child rides a bike to/from school, please remind them to follow the rules of the road; use crosswalks and wear their helmets.


Have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday as school will be closed November 19-23.




Jason Law


Mr. Jason M. Law
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