June 3, 2020
Dear Laurel School Community,
We want to address the recent and tragic events that continue to impact our nation, our community, and our students. Like many, we have experienced waves of so many different emotions and have struggled to process it all. While we are not experts in this matter nor do we have all the answers, we know that we cannot remain silent in times like these. We want all members of our Laurel School community to feel seen, heard, and valued. We are listening and we stand with you in solidarity.
At Laurel School, we value diversity, inclusion, and perspective taking. We recognize that every person at Laurel School - staff, parent, and child - experiences privilege and oppression differently. As educators, we believe it is our duty to ensure our staff and school environment provides an inclusive space for every individual. We feel it is our responsibility to give these students a more just world. Education is more than teaching academic content areas; at Laurel we are committed to supporting all aspects of our students’ intellectual, physical, social, and emotional development as they will be the future leaders of our world. Nevertheless, we know we can do better and we know we can do more. We recognize the need to actively work together to dismantle and rebuild systems that support racism and privilege. We will continue to support each other and Laurel families as we acknowledge and honor our differences, examine our own biases, identify racist systems and practices, and work together to break down these biases and systems to eliminate inequitable practices.
Below are a few resources that may be helpful if you are exploring this important and difficult topic with your children at home. If you would like to explore additional resources, you can find more on Ashley’s Counselor’s Corner website here.
- How to Talk to Your Children
- 31 Children's books to support conversations on race, racism and resistance
- Common Sense Media Raising
- Anti-Racist Kids Anti-Racism Resources
We, parents and educators, work together in a partnership to educate your children. We recognize this is an ongoing process and we approach this work as fellow learners, not as experts. We are always open to hearing your perspectives, having you push our thinking, and helping us consider additional ways to create a positive, more inclusive, anti-bias learning environment.
Linda Creighton (Laurel School Principal)
Ashley Guilliot (Laurel School Counselor)
Dear Laurel School Community,
I am happy to welcome all new and returning families to the 2019 - 2020 school year! The Laurel staff has been hard at work preparing for another successful and engaging year in the classrooms. Read below for important information and updates.
HOURS FOR LAUREL SCHOOL
K-2nd: Lower Campus at 95 Edge Road, Atherton, CA
3rd - 5th: Upper Campus at 275 Elliott Drive, Menlo Park, CA
At the Lower Campus: drop off/pick-up along Ringwood or Edge Road is not permitted, and there will be school staff and police enforcing smooth drop off and pick up operations around campus.
Please note that our first day is a Thursday, and the dismissal is at 2:00 PM for the Lower Campus and 2:10 PM for the Upper Campus.
All the Information You Need
I invite you to use Laurel School’s website for all the information you need to begin the school year on the right foot. In just one click, you will find:
*Calendar -- important dates like the First Day of School, Welcome Events, Back to School Night, and much more
*Transportation Options -- bussing to and from school as well as biking and walking will help with drop off and pick up
*Our Hot Lunch Program - Optional for families to purchase Lunchmaster school lunches
*Laurel’s Welcome Packet
*Support the One Community Campaign - We are thrilled to launch the One Community Campaign--a joint fundraising effort by our PTO and the Menlo Park Atherton Education Foundation. This is a streamlined way to donate to the organizations that help make Laurel the Best Place to Spend Your Childhood!
*Follow Laurel’s journey on Twitter: We post updates, events, views into teaching and learning, events, and fun times! @LaurelMPCSD
We had a busy spring and summer of hiring -- due to some retirements and other leaves, ten new teachers join Laurel’s staff!
We also welcome Shelley Winters as the Lower Campus Art Teacher Specialist, Molly Malone as Laurel’s K-5 Spanish World Language Teacher (joins us from Reed Union School District), and Sara Fortin (joins us from Blue Springs, Missouri) as the Lower Campus Learning Specialist.
At Laurel, we do not ask parents to purchase School Supplies for the classrooms. Family donations to the One Community Campaign allow our Office Managers to purchase all the supplies the teachers need in the classrooms. All your child needs on the first day of school is a backpack, a hearty snack, and a lunch (maybe a photo of your family or a pet to help ease first day jitters).
Sunday, August 18th: Kindergarten Q, A + Play. Calling all incoming kindergartners! If you would like a school tour, if your child would get excited about a scavenger hunt, and you have some burning questions, join me and a welcoming group of parent volunteers on the kindergarten yard. Arrival time is 2:00-2:30, group tours begin at 2:30. This is an optional event.
Monday, August 19th: Class Lists will be posted in Front Offices. K-5 Class lists will be posted in both the Lower Campus and Upper Campus Office windows. We used parent input from the spring to build balanced classes. We cannot honor requests to change classes.
Thursday, August 22nd: FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL! Arrive early for a smooth beginning, and set those routines in place on Day One!
Remember: Thursday is an early release day. 2:00 dismissal at the Lower Campus, 2:10 dismissal at the Upper Campus.
Be sure your child knows how s/he is getting home from school: Carline, Arbor (parent walk in for pick up), Bus, or After School Program.
At the Upper Campus, many kids walk and bike home on their own.
Friday, August 30th: NO SCHOOL; Teacher Staff Development Day
Monday, September 2nd: NO SCHOOL; Labor Day
Sunday, September 22nd: PTO’s New Family Welcome Social Event
I can’t wait to see all the happy faces when the children stream onto campus next week! It’s going to be a great year!
Laurel School Principal
August 16, 2018
Dear Laurel School Community,
With one week until school begins, I bet you are enjoying the last moments of summer, making memories with your families! While we have missed the Laurel Squirrels over the summer, our staff looks forward to welcoming them back to school on Thursday, August 23rd! (Keep in mind that Thursday is a typical early-release day.) We also can’t wait to meet all of our new students and families!
At Laurel, we value students who learn meaningful content and have voice and choice within their learning activities. One way we achieve this is through the Project Based Learning (PBL) model of instruction.
It’s hard to believe that 2018-19 will mark Laurel’s third year as a PBL school! The Panorama parent survey from last winter indicated a 15% gain in positive parent support for Laurel’s Project Based Learning instruction over our first year of implementation. An even higher growth (17%) was seen in response to the question regarding how much parents feel the PBL method is helping their children learn “meaningful and relevant content.” I’m encouraged that our efforts to develop student confidence through authentic and engaging learning experiences are paying off!
Laurel teachers will have dedicated time and training throughout the year to further improve upon their PBL instructional practices so we continue to inspire the students.
While Laurel teachers enjoyed a relaxing summer, they also worked in grade level teams, attended professional development seminars, and designed new teaching units. New Laurel teachers participated in District level onboarding to help them learn about the amazing MPCSD culture and were trained on MPCSD curriculum. On Friday, all teachers will officially return to work to once again transform their classrooms into vibrant learning environments and plan for the first days of school.
In the next few days, you will receive a welcome letter from Laurel’s PTO Co-Presidents, Azadeh Rasmussen and Ben Wang. You are going to love them both; they are incredibly focused on enhancing the student experience and maintaining strong community involvement at our school!
Remember that your donations to the PTO mean that Laurel families do not need to shop for back to school supplies. The PTO supplements Laurel’s funds so we can purchase all the learning tools your child will need in school. For the first day of school, your children will only need a standard sized backpack, a snack, a lunch (or LunchMaster order), and a smile!
*Class lists will be posted on Monday, August 20th at 4:00 pm in the office windows. For your convenience, we post K-5 classes at both sites.
*If you have an incoming kindergartener, the Laurel PTO and I invite you to the optional Q, A, & Play school tour and information session on Sunday, August 19th. We will meet at 2pm on the kindergarten yard.
*Is your incoming kindergartner worried about the first day of school? S/he will have an opportunity to quickly visit their teacher during the Kindergarten Meet and Greet.
Day and Time: Wednesday, August 22nd from 8:30-9:00 am
This event is also optional. Parents/caregivers do stay with their children during the Meet and Greet.
Website Direct Links
I invite you to navigate Laurel School’s website for pertinent information you might need to begin the school year.
Here are some helpful links within our website:
*Calendar -- important dates like the First Day of School, Welcome Events, Back to School Night, and much more
*Transportation Options -- bussing to and from school as well as biking and walking will help reduce road congestion around the neighborhoods.
*Hot Lunch Program -- Optional for families to purchase school lunches through LunchMaster (even if you use LunchMaster, please send your child to school with a snack each day).
*Follow Laurel’s journey on Twitter -- @LaurelMPCSD We post updates, events, views into teaching and learning, special school events, and other fun times!
New this Year
*Laurel will open school with 33 kindergarten through fifth grade classrooms and about 725 students across our two campuses!
*I am proud to announce that our Spanish Specialist program will expand to serve all English classes from kindergarten through fifth grade!
*Fourth and fifth graders have the option to participate in orchestra, or band, or Orff music instruction. Parents completed a form in the spring and the music teachers used that information to build the music specialist classes.
I hope I have provided you with all the information you need to prepare your families for the new year. Relish in the last seven days of summer with your young ones!
Laurel School Principal
August 17, 2017Dear Laurel School Community,
I am happy to welcome all new and returning families to the 2017-18 school year! The Laurel staff has been hard at work preparing for another successful and engaging year for our students. Read below for important information and updates.Hours For Laurel School
K-2nd: Lower Campus at 95 Edge Road, Atherton
3rd-5th: Upper Campus at 275 Elliott Drive, Menlo Park
At the Lower Campus: drop-off/pick-up along Ringwood or Edge Road is not permitted, and there will be school staff and police enforcing smooth drop-off and pick-up operations around campus.
All the Information You Need
I invite you to use Laurel School's website for all the information you need to begin the school year on the right foot. In just one click, you will find:Calendar -- important dates like the First Day of School, Welcome events, Back-to-School Night, and much more
Transportation Options -- bussing to and from school as well as biking and walking will help with drop-off and pick-up
Our Hot Lunch Program -- Optional for families to purchase LunchMaster school lunches
Start and End Times
Our Welcome Packet
Support the MPAEF Foundation and support the Laurel PTO -- two organizations that help shape Laurel into a fabulous school!Follow Laurel's journey on Twitter: We post updates, events, views into teaching and learning, events, and fun times! @LaurelMPCSD
I am so sad to let you know that our beloved Upper Campus Office Manager, Lora Richardson is leaving Laurel School to return home to Ohio. She has been the heart of the Upper Campus, providing a warm and welcoming environment for our students and community. We are working to find a replacement that will be every bit as wonderful as Lora is! You can still email her at email@example.com if you'd like to send her a note!
We had a busy spring and summer of hiring -- our Spanish Immersion program continues to expand and we have a few additional staffing changes. Please see below for the teaching teams for this year!
KindergartenFirst GradeSecond GradeThird GradeFourth GradeFifth GradeMaestra TocaMaestra GómezMaestra PeñaMs. RussellMr. ConourMrs. HorwitzMaestra BrakmoMaestra HarrisonMrs. Eva SullivanMrs. SantanaMrs. YamadaMr. KellerMrs. ThomasMrs. Fairbrother/ Mrs. ArgyresMaestra LehmanMrs. MadisonMs. WhiteleyMaestro ChaseMrs. Hammer (formerly Sullivan)Mrs. StappMrs. Maury/Mrs. WynneMaestra Evans/Maestra RochaMaestra DávalosMrs. WatkinsMrs. WilsonMrs. YeeMrs. PetersonMs. ClemoMs. BowerMs. MattosMrs. HirschOther changes: We have a new music teacher, Mr. Moore, who will be collaborating with Mrs. Bergeron to build our K-5 music program. Mrs. Giacomozzi will be the Upper Campus art teacher. Also new to Laurel is Deanna Kraz, who will be our Speech and Language teacher.
First Day: Thursday, August 24
We have missed all of the students and families this summer and can't wait for our classrooms to be filled with bustling learning, wonder, and engagement!
Laurel School Principal
P.S. The first Laurel PTO newsletter will be sent out next Sunday, August 20th -- more news and updates to come!June 2017Dear Laurel School Community,
As we end this memorable and historical school year at Laurel, I wanted to send one final "Letter from Linda."
What I've learned over my eight years as principal of Laurel School is that it doesn't matter how many students, classes, programs, or moving parts within a school year, we always have a lot going on! This year was no exception. In hindsight this has been a year of "firsts" and looking forward, we are hoping to have fewer firsts and more time to reflectively improve and build upon this year's start-ups!Over my tenure in MPCSD, I've broadly shared my dream for Laurel Students to have a full kindergarten through fifth grade Laurel education, where we get to know each child well for six full years of school, and where we are able to implement a well-articulated, highly engaging education for students' entire elementary years. I'm proud to have finally seen my dream become a reality!
As our fifth graders move onto Hillview, I wish them all the very best and hope that the values of friendship, perseverance, responsibility, and cooperation continue to shine through. I tell kids all the time that when they are not at Laurel, they still represent Laurel School, and I am thrilled to have the very first class of fifth graders move on to represent us at Hillview.
Moving forward, we would like to reflect on our goal to remain a cohesive K-5 School across two campuses. Will you please take less than five minutes to complete this survey for us? We want to hear from our key stakeholders what went well and how we can improve. You can provide input regarding our Halloween Parade, Student Buddy Classes and our Spring Fling & Open House.
Finally, I'm including the letter I wrote for the student yearbook, because I believe it's a nice summary of the year we spent together!
Thank you for your partnership to help make Laurel School "the best place to spend your childhood!" Have a restful and rejuvenating summer...
All the best,
Laurel School PrincipalThe following is Linda's message included in our 2016 - 2017 student yearbook.
Dear Laurel School Students,
This 2016-17 school year was quite a celebratory one! It was a year of first times, special times, and exciting times. Fidget spinners, water bottle flipping, and doing the dab were all very popular with you!
We launched the year, our first time in over 30 years, as a kindergarten through fifth grade school! We were all prepared to "be patient and be positive" as 650 students and 60 staff members worked together at our Edge Road campus in Atherton for the first six weeks of school. Some of the best parts of being all squished at the Lower Campus were the sibling sightings, and lower grade teachers witnessing their former students as the "big kids!"
It was right about at the beginning of the year when we learned that Laurel School was being awarded with the esteemed 2016 National Blue Ribbon Award. Only 25 schools in all of California earned the award, and I attribute our success to our confident and engaged students, passionate and dedicated staff, and our involved community! We work together so well to create a school that is the BEST place to spend one's childhood.
Finally, as planned, on October 17th, Laurel's 3-5 students and staff moved into our brand new, state of the art Upper Campus on Elliott Drive in Menlo Park. Slowly the new school campus began to take shape with the gradual adds of our play structure, then tetherball courts, then running track, and finally the huge grassy field!
We spent the majority of our 180 days together as a two campus, K-5 school. However, the PTO helped us stay connected with events like the Halloween parade at the Lower Campus for all Laurel students, our classroom buddy field trips between the campuses, the launch of Squirrel T.V., and our Spring Fling community picnic.
Your teachers were brave enough to bring project based learning (PBL) to your classrooms for the first time this year. From the "Whose Zoo is Whose?" unit in kindergarten to the "We are America" immigration unit in fourth grade, the Laurel teachers at every grade level think PBL is a great way to bring more joy and deeper, collaborative learning to your education!
Looking back, it's hard to believe we fit in so many celebrations and first times. It was a fantastic year and I hope the memories captured in this yearbook are treasured for years to come!
Lots of love from your principal,
Mrs. CreightonThe annual Laurel School Site Survey is coming to your inbox January 10th, 2017.
December 16, 2016Dear Laurel School Community,
I hope your 2016 is winding down nicely and 2017 begins by creating wonderful memories! We would like to start the new year with our annual Laurel School site survey. We have a new online survey tool this year, and have come together as a whole district to design this new survey program together. This year's survey will solicit feedback from parents, students, and faculty on how we are doing at Laurel School and what we can do better. While many of the questions will feel familiar and relate directly to your student's experience at Laurel, you will also see some new questions that will help us collect data for the purposes of reporting on MPCSD's Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) areas, such as Family Engagement and Family Support. You will receive a separate email with your survey link on January 10, 2017. We would greatly appreciate all responses by January 27, 2017. Please note that this new school specific survey is different from the Community survey you may have received in the mail from the Menlo Park City School District before the Winter Break.
Analyzing Survey Results during Feedback February
During "Feedback February", leaders and educators from across our school will come together to review all of your feedback. Individual teachers who receive feedback will also have the chance to reflect on results specific to their classrooms. In previous years, we've used parent feedback to make meaningful improvements for students such as working to improve communications, building a more challenging math program, and changes to our Family Math night. This year, we have intentionally designed this school-site survey program for our whole district to strive to make improvements during the course of this school year based on your feedback!
All survey responses are confidential. All of our District schools are partnering with an independent organization, Panorama Education, with expertise in school surveys, to manage the data collection to ensure confidentiality. Panorama will share all the survey responses with us; however, the identity of the survey taker will be not be shared with anyone at the schools or at the District. All responses will be read and used at Laurel as important feedback to help us plan for this academic year.
Completing the Survey
The survey will take approximately 30 minutes to complete, and will be an invaluable source of information for us as we work to make our school as excellent as it can be. It will be available in Spanish and English.
You will receive one survey invitation to give feedback for each school in the Menlo Park City School District where you have students attending. Each email will direct you to a personal survey landing page where you can provide all of your feedback in one place. You will be asked to complete this survey one time for each school even if you have multiple children at the same school. Students in grades 3-8 will be taking a student version of the survey during the school day in January.
We know that your time is precious and we greatly appreciate you taking the time to give us your feedback. Once you receive an email with the survey link, we invite you to pour a cup of tea, select your preferred electronic device (laptop, smart phone, ipad, etc.), and tell us what you think. We are excited to hear from you!
Please don't hesitate to contact Panorama directly at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions about accessing your survey. You may also send school specific questions to me at email@example.com or to Laurel's Site Council President, Scott Saywell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We thank you in advance for your participation and thoughtful responses.
Laurel School PrincipalDecember 6, 2016Dear Laurel School Community,
I'm pleased to inform you that after months of information sharing, soliciting input, and deliberating, last night the MPCSD's School Board voted to levy a $360 parcel tax on the March 2017 ballot! To read more about the process and to stay informed about FAQs regarding MPCSD's funding model and structural deficit, click here for an incredibly informative Q&A document.
I have a few other updates to share with you. Please read below:Report Cards
The first trimester came to a close last Friday, December 2nd. Over the last few weeks, teachers have been measuring student mastery in their academic areas, and we continue to celebrate growth and achievement in our students! Teachers are completing report cards this week, and they will be sent home on Monday in your child's blue folder. I'm thrilled to notify you that every teacher at Laurel will be using a standards-based report card. Letter grades (A, B, C...) will no longer be our means of reporting about student progress in the elementary grades at Laurel School. If you have had older children matriculate through 4th grade and beyond, you will certainly notice a shift in our upper grade report cards, which are still in the pilot phase.
Mounting research (and a great deal of anecdotal experience) informs us that letter grades are typically ambiguous, do not match a growth mindset philosophy, and can be very stigmatizing. Instead of working to learn more, students become motivated for a singular letter grade. Misleading information such as effort and behavior can then be used to bolster academic letter grades. Understanding current best practice, I am proud that all of Laurel's upper grade teachers quickly jumped at the opportunity to move away from letter grades and towards standards-based grading. Teachers now assess and report on student mastery toward the district adopted learning standards. This format will be very similar to our K-3 report cards, so it shouldn't come as much of a surprise.
To learn more about the new report card, and the philosophy of standards based grading, you are invited to join MPCSD's Data and Assessment Coordinator, Sandy Pugliano, at the Upper Campus this Thursday, December 8th at 8:30am in the atrium for a half-hour report card information session. In addition, a parent information guide will be sent home on Monday, which will also serve to help you better understand standards-based reporting.
One of Laurel's most beloved programs is our Caring and Sharing Program in which the Laurel Community comes together to support families who need extra financial assistance. Over the years, it is clear that Laurel families value supporting the children within our own school community. Please feel free to stop by the offices to select a family to "adopt" this holiday season. The giving tree is part of Laurel's Caring and Sharing program, which supports children and families within the Laurel community who come from low socioeconomic households and who opt in to receive extra financial support. Many families teach their children generosity, and kindness by involving their children in the selection and shopping process. If you would prefer to make an online donation, you can click here to do so. Gifts of any size are appreciated.
Upper Campus: Please be aware of the 15 mph zone on Elliott Drive. Drive slowly and carefully approach the school and while in the parking lot. If your child is picked up via the car line to go home, s/he must wait on the wall up against the classroom building until sent to your car by the after school yard duty.
Lower Campus: Please have your child walk his/her bike once they reach school grounds (you too!). Do not bike children through our drop off and pick up parking lots! I'd also like to remind you that our car line queues along Edge Road and onto Ringwood Ave. And finally, all students after school must be met by an adult. No after school play is allowed at the Lower Campus since we do not have after school yard supervision.
Thank you for your partnership, engagement, and commitment to Laurel School! It is a joy to work within such a committed and supportive community. Looking forward to a joyful and productive second trimester!
Kind regards,Linda Creighton
Laurel School PrincipalOctober 15, 2016Dear Parents of 3rd, 4th and 5th Graders,
The time has come! After tremendous planning, visioning, and construction, Laurel’s Upper Campus will be in full swing on Monday morning!
I’m sitting here right now at the new school, watching the final touches come together for our opening day. Teachers are setting up their classrooms and reimagining teaching and learning in the new space. I can’t wait to hear laughter and enthusiastic cheers from our students. This school is for them!
Internet and Phones
We have limited network connectivity. Therefore, teachers may be slower to respond via email. We anticipate having full connectivity by the end of the week.Two analog phone numbers are available to contact the school until we have full network availability:650-321-6012
Only call if it is absolutely necessary
If the line is busy, or no one answers, please be patient and call back.
Drop Off, Pick Up, and Start/End Times:
First Day Procedures
- Bike and walk as much as possible
- Car entry is allowed only from the Elliott Drive entry
- Park only where it is legally acceptable
- Supervision begins at 7:55 AM on the yard
- Start time: 8:35 AM; Dismissal: 3:15 PM (Thursday: 2:10 PM)
- Our car line will be in full effect.
- Please remember:Pull ALL the way forward
- Students only exit CURBSIDE
- Parents stay in the car
- Same Car Line rules for the Lower Campus will apply at the Upper Campus for pick up
- Students can be met outside the front gate (“Laurel School Upper Campus” gate)
Mrs. Kraska, Mrs. Guilliot, and I will be out front greeting students and pointing them in the direction of the playground.Parents: Say goodbye at the front entrance (under the “Laurel School Upper Campus” sign)Students: TEAM Time begins at 8:35 AM for students only.
Photographers: Two parent volunteers will be capturing photos of the first day. We will give a first day memory photo of the kids and teachers to all students.All parent volunteers must sign in at the front office.
Please remember, this first day we will be focused on the kids. Parents will say goodbye at the front gate. You can tour the building during the Opening Ceremony Celebration on October 22 at 3:00 PM. Also, you will be able to see the building during parent-teacher conferences the week of October 24th.
Looking forward to this momentous day!
Laurel School PrincipalOctober 8, 2016Dear K-2 Parents,
October 17th is just around the corner! The day our 3rd through 5th graders move over to Laurel’s Upper Campus in the Willows Neighborhood.
New Start and End Times
With the move, and as was communicated to all parents at the beginning of the, we will be adjusting the start and end times for the Lower Campus. This shift will accommodate the district’s bussing program so we can provide some neighborhood routes for all five school sites in MPCSD. Please click here for our new start and end times.
With the move, at the Lower Campus we are looking forward to gaining back the multi purpose room, the computer lab, the conference room, our staff room, and classrooms for our specialist and support teachers.
It will be bittersweet for our younger students to say farewell to the 3rd through 5th graders. The most heartwarming things I’ve witnessed, with all K-5 students at the Lower Campus, are “sibling sightings” where siblings come together to hug, high five, and wave as they pass each other on campus!
Based on recommendations from our cohesion committee, we are having the Halloween Parade all together at the Lower Campus! On Monday, October 31st, all students will come to the Lower Campus at 8:30 a.m. for the school-wide Halloween Parade! Students will meet their teachers at their “old” classroom locations and all kids will parade around the school from 8:30-9:15. At 9:15, grades 3, 4, and 5 will be bussed back to the Upper Campus.
Lower Campus Parties: 9:15-10:15
Upper Campus Parties: 2:00 ish
Morning Car Line Procedures
Safety First at Laurel School! I’m including a reminder about our morning drop off procedures:
To keep all of our students safe during morning drop off, please follow these four simple rules:
- Pull ALL the way up in the carpool line.
- Children should exit the car ONLY from the right side of the car onto the curb.
- Parents REMAIN INSIDE your car.
- DO NOT park in the car lane until after 8:30 a.m.
- If you are unable to follow all four rules, please park in the parking lot and walk your child in to school.
The Week Ahead
The upcoming week will be full of activity -- teachers packing their classrooms and our Maintenance Team moving boxes and furniture from the Lower Campus to the Upper Campus. We have a lot to accomplish in a short amount of time, but are thrilled we will begin school at the Upper Campus on the anticipated date.
It will be bittersweet to expand; this has been a wonderful beginning to an amazing year. More than anything, I thank you for being patient and positive through the transition!
Laurel School PrincipalAugust 2016Dear Laurel School Community,I am happy to welcome all new and returning families to the 2016-17 school year! The Laurel staff has been hard at work preparing for another successful and engaging year for our students. Read below for important information and updates.Laurel’s Expansion is CompleteAfter over 50 years as a primary school, Laurel School is now a comprehensive kindergarten through fifth grade educational program! I am delighted to launch the year with nearly 675 students, our highest enrollment ever!. While this growth sounds daunting, our professional and caring staff will continue to personalize every child’s experience. This year, we welcome over twenty new staff members! With our growth and expansion, I am confident we will maintain the small school feel the community has always treasured.
2016-17 School Year Initiative - Project Based Learning
As we launch a new school year, our primary focus will be on ensuring a cohesive, continuous, and exceptional school experience for our students, families, and staff. The results of a two year study by our Visioning Team informed the team to recommend Project Based Learning (PBL) as the educational model by which we will increase confidence and engagement in all our learners. (More information about Laurel School’s Vision and Project Based Learning is included at the bottom of this letter.)Dates and Times for 2016-17Our first day of school is Thursday, September 1st. For the first six weeks of school, all Laurel students will be housed on our 95 Edge Road campus. Please note that our daily start and stop times have changed.
Hours for Laurel School (95 Edge Road)
Effective September 1st - October 14th
On Monday, October 17, 2016 we will move our third, fourth, and fifth grades into Laurel’s brand-new Upper Campus at 275 Elliott Drive in Menlo Park. To accommodate MPCSD’s complex transportation schedule, we will have new start and end times once we expand: click here to see how Laurel’s bell schedule will shift starting October 17th.Be Patient and Be Positive!
Because we will have a cozy campus for six weeks, I’ve adopted a mantra that Laurel Teacher, Cilla Seely, coined: “Be Patient and Be Positive!” Yes, there will be a lot of people on a crowded campus. The more patient and positive we are, the better our school climate will be! With 675 students, 65 staff members, and even more parents, we must all be models for the children in our actions, words, and attitudes. Be sure to leave ample time to park and walk your child in, or to spend time dropping off in front of the school. Drop off/pick-up along Ringwood or Edge Road is not permitted, and there will be school staff and police enforcing smooth drop off and pick up operations around campus.All the Information You Need - Visit our Website!
I invite you to use Laurel School’s recently updated website for all the information you need to begin the school year on the right foot. In just one click, you will find:
Calendar - Check our calendar for important dates like the First Day of School, Welcome Events, Back to School Night, and much more!
Transportation Options -- Bussing to and from school as well as biking and walking will help with drop off and pick up
Our New Hot Lunch Program - New accounts are required this year!
Start and End Times
Our Welcome Packet
Don't forget to support the MPAEF Foundation and our Laurel PTO -- two organizations that help shape Laurel into a fabulous school!Attention Fifth Grade Parents - Mark your Calendars Now!
If you have a child who will be in fifth grade next year, please be aware that the students will have the opportunity to head to San Mateo County’s Outdoor Education School with their classroom teacher during the week of September 19th-23rd. Information and forms will be mailed to your home the week before school begins.In just three weeks, the classroom doors will open and Laurel School will once again be filled with children’s and teachers’ smiling faces! Join me in taking a leap into this school year, filled with tremendous potential for each and every Laurel child.
Kind regards,Linda Creighton
Laurel School Principal
Laurel School’s Vision and Project Based Learning Educational Model
For two full school years (2014-2016), our Laurel School Visioning team (comprised of teachers, parents, and administrators), empathized with Laurel parents, teachers, students, community members. We researched best educational models to inspire and educate elementary students and looped back to our stakeholders to hear their perspectives and feedback. Throughout this process, we learned that the community shares many values for our school’s students, teachers, and community:
Ours is a community that values confident kids, where confidence is broadly defined as:
- Students who are well-balanced
- Students who have a strong command of their academic skills
- Students who ask questions, and who seek to understand processes, systems and inter-related ideas
- Students who maintain a growth mindset —that is, students who aren’t afraid to take risks, and who learn and grow from failure
- Students who have the social and emotional skills to do what is right for themselves, and for those around them
- Students who understand their potential influence in our global community, and who see themselves as part of a bigger whole.
We quickly learned that our community considers every adult involved with Laurel School to be a role model for our children. We are, therefore, all teachers for our students—whether we are classroom teachers, support teachers, specialists, instructional aides, on- or off-campus staff, administrators, or parent volunteers. We all share a duty of care for our students, and we should all be doing whatever it takes to engage, challenge and support every single student at Laurel School. The visioning team heard loud and clear that Laurel should recruit and develop staff members who are passionate about this work.
Take one step onto Laurel’s campus and you will feel the support, engagement, and positivity of a strong community. Head to a Little League game, and you will hear parents promoting Laurel School to their friends in neighboring districts. Members of the visioning team heard in our empathy sessions that Laurel School would not be the place it is without its involved community, and that going forward, we only want to grow the community-school interdependence.
After reflecting on the ideas articulated above, the team distilled the input down to our new Laurel School vision:LAUREL SCHOOL
The BEST place to spend your childhood!
We are confident students,
passionate teachers &
an involved community!
At Laurel we remain focused on our vision to foster confident students through the guidance of our passionate teachers and involved community. Thank you again for contributing to Laurel School’s efforts to be a great place for kids to learn and grow!
Project Based Learning (PBL)
To maintain a cohesive, continuous K-5 educational experience across both campuses, Laurel’s Visioning Team used a design process to determine an educational model to be applied consistently across all classrooms. The research, which included heavy doses of empathizing with students, teachers, and parents, led us to fall in love with Project Based Learning! The projects will be designed to ensure meaningful integration of reading and writing. Also, all projects will be created for an authentic audience, often incorporating an act of community service.In a nutshell, here are some key elements of PBL:
Before the 2016-2017 school year begins, every Laurel teacher will receive comprehensive professional development in PBL and will have the support to develop and implement a PBL unit of study (about 6-8 weeks long) in their classroom. Ongoing coaching throughout the year will be provided by our very own Theresa Fox, and also from the San Mateo County Office of Education. As we progress in our implementation, we will seek feedback from students, staff, and parents to help us reflect and continually improve educational experiences and outcomes, specifically to increase joy and confidence in all Laurel students!
- Inquiry-based learning is at the heart of the model
- Meaningful integration of reading, writing, technology, and math
- Student voice & choice in all projects
- 21st century skills are embedded: collaboration & communication
- Students create projects for an authentic audience
We are incredibly encouraged by the experience PBL will provide for Laurel students and teachers, not to mention our greater community!June 2016Dear Laurel School Community,
Amidst the excitement and bustle of year-end events, it's nice to take a moment to reflect upon the successful 2015-16 school year. We began the year with our very first Laurel School fourth grade group of 75 students. It was so much fun to have the opportunity to "keep" our kids as they grew into confident and funny upper graders! Each child was able to grow their talents through our art, music, and P.E. specialist programs. We saw a love of reading explode through our "Pop! Pop! Read a lot!" reading challenge. Kids were recognized and awarded for using their life skills. In the classrooms, students enjoyed 180 days of celebrations, growth, and success!Cohesion
This was also a year we zealously studied how we might remain one cohesive K-5 school across two campuses, planning ahead for when we expand in the fall. Ellen Kraska, Assistant Principal, led the parent and teacher Cohesion Committee which developed recommendations about where to hold Fall Family Picnic (Lower Campus), how to maintain buddy classes (field trips!), and how the PTO would be configured (one Laurel PTO will serve both campuses), among many other exciting ideas.Project Based Learning (PBL) - Our Educational Model
To maintain a cohesive, continuous K-5 educational experience across both campuses, Laurel's Visioning Team used a design process to determine an educational model to apply consistently across all classrooms. The research, which included heavy doses of empathizing with students, teachers, and parents, led us to fall in love with Project Based Learning! Next year, the full Laurel staff will be trained, supported, and coached on how to effectively teach science and social studies standards through the PBL model. The projects will be designed to ensure meaningful integration of reading and writing. Also, all projects will be created for an authentic audience, often incorporating an act of community service. We are so encouraged by the experience PBL will provide for Laurel students and teachers, not to mention our greater community!
It is increasingly clear that we are moving in the right direction toward our vision:Laurel School
The BEST place to spend your childhood!
We are confident students,
passionate teachers &
an involved community!Bell Schedules for 2016-17
Finally, as I've promised so many parents I would do before the last day of school, I am sharing with you start and end times for the 2016-17 school year.
HOURS FOR LAUREL SCHOOL (95 Edge Road), K-5 from Sept 1 - Oct 14:
While I did receive feedback asking us not to stagger start and end times during the first six weeks of school, the Laurel site on Edge Road was built for 450 students, not 700. Operationally, we simply cannot have all students entering and leaving school at the same time. That said, for those of you who have students in both primary and upper grades, we will provide supervision for all students beginning at 7:45am. Similarly, we will supervise K-2 students who have older siblings until the last pick-up time.
With 700 students, 65 staff members, and over 1000 parents, we will need to be models for the children in our actions, words, and attitudes. My mantra for the first six weeks of next school year is, "Be Patient and Be Positive!" Yes, there will be a lot of people on a crowded campus. The more patient and positive you are, the better our school environment will be!On October 17th, when we expand to the Upper Campus (275 Elliott Drive, MP) , the bell schedule for MPCSD will be:Bus ServiceMPCSD will provide bussing in the mornings and afternoons for students living in/near Menlo Oaks, as well as the Willows neighborhood. For students in the Tinsley Transfer program, MPCSD will also continue to provide bussing to Laurel. In addition, there will be a connection bus from the Lower Campus to the Upper Campus each morning and afternoon. Schedules are being fine tuned, and bus schedules will be communicated from the District Office in early August.In closing, I want to express how extremely grateful I am to you for being our partner as we educate and nurture all Laurel students. We are part of an amazing community! This is a unique year because Laurel students aren't advancing to Encinal or Hillview, they will return to Laurel in the fall, and we will pick up right where we left off!I can't wait to see everyone's smiles again on September 1st!Kind regards,Linda CreightonLaurel School Principal
August 2015Dear Laurel School Community,
It’s hard to believe that in just two weeks, it’s back to school for our Laurel students! I hope this letter finds you enjoying your last days of summer break. After a wonderful month of relaxation and family time, I am returning to the new school year invigorated and recharged, ready for an engaging 2015-16 school year, as well as the excitement that lies ahead as we plan for the opening of Laurel’s Upper Campus in the fall of 2016.
The first day of instruction this school year is Tuesday, August 25. Click here for the school start and end times -- please note, times have changed to allow all students to have the opportunity to ride the district bus to and from school.
Please see our recently updated school calendar for all other important dates.
Meet Ellen Kraska, Assistant Principal
I am overjoyed to introduce Laurel’s new Assistant Principal, Ellen Kraska. For the last three years, Ellen has served as an instructional coach in the Palo Alto and Los Altos School Districts. Before that, she was a classroom teacher who was dedicated to bringing rich and engaging learning experiences to her students. Throughout her career, she demonstrated her expertise as a coach and thought leader, and her core values match MPCSD’s. Thanks to Ellen, Laurel is now on Twitter @LaurelMPCSD and Instagram @Laurel_School. Don’t worry, we won’t post any student faces unless previously approved by parents. Follow us!
Laurel’s Visioning Work
If you were able to attend the volunteer brunch at the end of the year, then you have heard about our plans to develop Laurel School as a K-5 school across two campuses. I plan to keep you apprised of our progress and decisions along the way. To read more about the process so far, please scroll down to the end of this letter.
For the first time ever, Laurel School will have fourth graders on our Edge Road campus! I am elated for this new evolution because of the positive impact it will have on all Laurel students, particularly our oldest kids. The fourth grade team of teachers (Clemo, Conour, and Yamada) met throughout the summer and is bringing to Laurel all the best from their combined past experiences (Design Thinking, Highly Effective Teaching, Teachers College Trainings, and more). They are already developing new, innovative programs for our oldest students. One of my goals for this year is to work with this small, amazing team to prototype a new way to report progress to parents each trimester, incorporating mounting research about how to deliver meaningful and effective feedback. The teachers are thrilled with the opportunity to break the mold — stay tuned!
Focuses for 2015-16
This year, Laurel teachers will continue to implement programs and practices that have brought us success. Reflecting on student, teacher, and parent feedback, we achieved solid results with our writing program in the 14-15 school year. Over 95% of parent respondents on Laurel’s School Survey indicated that they agree or strongly agree that we are “doing whatever it takes” to ensure their child progresses in writing.
With regards to reading instruction, a handful of Laurel teachers implemented the Reading Workshop model of instruction last year, which complements the Writing Workshop model that Laurel has used for the past two years. Analysis of year-end DRA scores showed that the model was successful, and therefore we will continue to train and develop more teachers in Reading Workshop. As such, 15 out of 25 Laurel Teachers were trained in Reading Workshop in June by Teachers College Staff Developers. This school year, Lucia Rocha-Nestler, Laurel Teacher and Language Arts Coach, will provide daily, in-class coaching support to help teachers implement both Reading and Writing Workshop.
For math, all Laurel teachers will be using the new District adopted math curriculum, Math Expressions. The curriculum was adopted by MPCSD after a group of teachers in the district piloted different math programs. Math Expressions was far and away the favored curriculum by our teachers. Two full days this fall will be devoted to teacher training on the new program.
Finally, much of our work this fall will be spent analyzing three educational models as potential models to implement as Laurel moves toward an integrated and inquiry-based model of teaching and learning. Our visioning team selected Project Based Learning, International Baccalaureate, and Design Thinking as the three models to test during science and social studies instruction. All Laurel second and third grade teachers will be piloting one of the models for approximately six weeks from late September through early November. We will use a number of measures to determine which model best helps us engage and develop confident students and passionate teachers, and matches the values and aspirations of the Laurel community. Again, please scroll down to read more about the process.
This will be a year of nearly 550 students on our campus. Be prepared to adhere to tighter rules for parking on and off campus. Notices about campus expectations will be included in the newsletters. Also, MPCSD will offer bussing for Laurel students in all grades. Please sign up for the bus and/or consider arriving earlier in our drop off window to help.
2015-16 Teaching Staff
I am proud to present the teaching teams for 2014-2015 School Year:
Kindergarten First Grade Second Grade Third Grade Fourth Grade Alma Ortiz-Agib* Whitney Argyres & Chelsea Bassett Courtney Maury
& Jeannie Wynne
& Anne Evans*
Maria Clemo Ashley Regan Judy Fairbrother Ilana (Schwalb) Bell Cilla Seely/Andi Dehne Grant Conour Brynn Reynlib Liliana Gomez* Jeriann Hirsch Steffany Cressey Heidi Yamada Gina Watkins Teagan Lazzarotti Sandra Horwitz Andrea (Mazz) Madison Leigh Wilson Nari Yee Marlene Lehman* Stacei Santana Ruth Peterson Emily Smith
Support and Specialist Teachers
Counselor: Ashley Guilliot; Teacher Librarian: Sheila Warren; Music: Rachel Bergeron; Art: Monique Donecho; P.E.: Megan Stone; World Language (Spanish): Marisela Ghahramani; Reading Specialist: Bets McKnight; Early Intervention & Reading Recovery: Robin Reding; English Language Learner: Emily Chen & Lucía Rocha-Nestler; School Psychologists: Kristi Quinby & Lisa Walton; Speech & Language: Dawn Edgren & Hannah Essenberg; RSP/Inclusion: Katie Houston & Lisa Edberg; OT: Brie Cioffi; Science Lab Aide: Monica Casey
In partnership with you and the Laurel staff, I look forward to providing an incredible educational experience for your child this year!