• Kristen Gracia

    Principal, Oak Knoll School
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Principal Messages 2018-2019

  • Survey Data and Summer Wishes
    June 10, 2019
    Dear Oak Knoll Parents,
    It has been an outstanding year filled with learning, friends, and memorable experiences. We launched the year with a goal and intention to build more connection and community. We did this not because we have lacked community and connection, but in fact, the opposite. The more connected our students feel, the better they do academically. In wrapping up the year, I want to share some of our most recent school survey results. The feedback and progress mirrors the emphasis we continue to place on social-emotional learning and school climate. Most of all, when we asked students and parents about what they value, it was so rewarding to see the parallels between the staff, students and parent responses. Our mission, every student an exemplary scholar, valued friend and courageous citizen, floated to the top, as well as the overwhelming appreciation and gratitude for our incredible teachers and staff. 
    Check out these highlights from our student and parent survey:
    • Student sense of belonging at school went up to 84% favorable. Student classroom belonging also increased by 12%, and when asked how much students believe their teacher cares about them 87% responded favorably.
    • Our 5th graders reported an 86% favorable response when asked about how much they belong at school (16% increase). This is great, as 5th graders typically report a lower sense of belonging at school than their younger peers. We had action plans in this area and are thrilled to see this progress.
    • Boys’ sense of belonging also went up to 81% favorable (5% increase). This was exciting for us to see, as we have spent time working on this. Given that the majority of our staff is female, we have been more intentional about making sure Oak Knoll is a school that works for boys.
    • When asked about student-teacher connection, 93% of our upper grade students reported feeling at least somewhat connected, with 77% feeling quite or extremely connected. When we asked our K-5th parents about student-teacher connection, 97% reported their child feeling at least somewhat connected with 88% reporting quite or extremely connected.
    • For the first time, we asked parents how connected they feel to the Oak Knoll community. We gathered a baseline at 69% of parents reporting that they feel quite to extremely connected, with an additional 26% feeling somewhat connected. We believe intentional focus on connection between parents will continue to have a positive impact.
    • Oak Knoll’s net promoter score is 83! Our score went up 9 points from an already high score.


    Along with the positive came actionable feedback around prioritizing diversity, streamlining communication, expanding the ways in which we differentiate instruction, and many other ideas to further enhance the Oak Knoll experience. Every year we use feedback like this, along with our academic data, to develop annual site goals and action plans. Our site plan is always detailed and extensive, as it helps us prioritize continuous improvement.

    In addition, we plan to take a look under the hood and uncover the many challenges (and joys) that come with parenting. From the feelings of pressure and urgency to the stress and anxiety our parent community experiences when thinking about their child’s needs and future. How do the well-intended actions we take as parents to support our children impact our community as a whole? How does this impact our students? What is causing parents to feel that more is better; more is necessary? Is there something Oak Knoll can do to relieve this pressure? How might we increase inclusion and collaboration among parents and the neighborhoods our school serves to ensure that ALL students succeed? We are hoping you will help us better understand the needs, hopes and fears of our community. We feel the time is right to create space throughout the school year for more in-depth conversations with and among parents. I am sure we will have a catchy name for this parent series of conversations and, as always, we will look forward to your engagement. As we say, Together we are Oak Knoll.
    For now, let’s take a break and enjoy the simple pleasures of life. Whether that be a slow morning in pajamas or an adventurous journey, I wish you and yours a summer filled with happiness. Thank you for allowing us to do the work we so deeply care about and believe in. Oak Knoll is a unique place and I am beyond grateful to be here among the most dedicated staff, the most caring community and the most awesome students!
    With gratitude,
    Kristen Gracia
    P.S. If this marks the end of your Oak Knoll journey, always remember...once an otter, always an otter!
    2019-2020 Class Placement Process
    April 30, 2019
    Dear Oak Knoll Parents,
    It is time to begin our placement process for the 20​19-20 school year! Our placement process is thoughtful and thorough. Our classroom teachers, specialists, intervention team and administrators will work together and use a full range of dynamic expertise and intimate knowledge of students, programs and services. Our goal is to create balanced classes so each teacher has the capacity to effectively provide their attention to each student. Once again, we are offering a Parent Input Form as a means of communication. This form is not required, however it is the ONLY way for you to provide information regarding your child's placement. Please remember that there is no reason for parents to gather information about teachers, lose sleep over placement, or lobby for preferential teacher choice. Instead, have confidence in our process and focus your input on student information. I read every input form and will ​kindly turn down all placement meetings for three reasons:
    1. Equity and integrity: We have over a thousand parents who all care about their child's education, and a placement process that fairly supports all students.
    2. Input form: It is not necessary to meet because I will read EVERY input form and will contact you if I need additional information (I really do this).
    3. Time: It is important that I spend my time in the classrooms and meeting with teachers regarding student achievement, social well-being and progress. This work supports placement.
    At Oak Knoll, we have two fantastic 3rd-5th upper grade programs! All parents may requestone of the following options on the input form​​:
    • Multi-age Program
    • Traditional Program
    • Let my child's 2nd grade teacher decide


    If you do not complete the input form, our teachers will place your child in an upper grade program. If you do complete the input form, our teachers will be reviewing your program requests. Also, no worries, if your child's 2nd grade teacher has questions or concerns about your program request, they will reach out to you directly. Both programs are subject to lottery based on demand.
    What is Multi-age? Multi-age is an innovative approach to school and is worth your consideration. Most children thrive in a multi-age setting and there is no specific learning profile required. Multi-age is open to everyone. Find out more here an​d/or​ we will be hosting tours ​beginning Monday and until the Input Form is due. Call the office to sign up now: 650-854-4433. We only do tours for multi-age, and not traditional, because many people are not familiar with the format of the multiage program​.​

    Here is the Parent Input Form to complete by May 1​7​, 201​9.​
    Thanks for your continued partnership,
    Kristen Gracia
    Principal, Oak Knoll School
    Welcome Back from Principal Gracia
    August 20th, 2018
    Dear Oak Knoll Parents,
    It is with deep gratitude that I welcome you and yours back to school. To our new families, we open our doors and invite you to join our incredible school community. Oak Knoll is truly a special place and an excellent school. Many leaders, educators, and parents ask for our school climate recipe. They wonder how and why Oak Knoll stands out when it comes to connection, climate and vision, not to mention academics. The answer is always easy. Our success boils down to one variable...the people.
    When we all show up as caring participants within this community, we create an environment for our children to thrive, as well as a strong foundation that our staff, students and families can depend on. I deeply value the unique connection between teachers, staff, parents, and students at Oak Knoll. This past summer, when we experienced the loss of a vibrant student, we were all reminded of the importance of our connections. There was, and continues to be, an outpouring of love, support, and strength from our compassionate community. Oak Knoll brings us together, but ultimately, together we are Oak Knoll.
    As we begin the school year, I invite you to get involved! We are excited to announce more ways to connect, like our Mix and Mingle events for parents, an Office Open House, our Talking About Tech Together coffee talk series, our Fall Family Picnic (where apparently I will be in a dunk tank), and a dynamic parent education Speaker Series. Make sure to peruse the weekly newsletter to stay “in the know” with everything Oak Knoll. Fostering connection and relationships begins with us adults.
    Our school vision, “Every student an exemplary scholar, a valued friend and a courageous citizen” is our primary driver. Our mission is anchored in teaching students about mindset, compassion, and service. We believe exemplary scholars have a growth mindset, valued friends are compassionate, and courageous citizens recognize the needs of others and see themselves as part of the solution.
    Our teachers will continue to be intentional about building a strong and safe classroom community so our students can take risks, be creative, and learn deeply. This process takes many forms, from greeting students by name every day at the door, to getting to know each student, their interests, strengths, and needs. Goal setting and targeted instruction is the path that leads our students to academic success, but we know their success is only as strong as their ability to apply a growth mindset, show compassion and see the needs of others from a global perspective. It all connects!
    I am most excited about seeing the kids return on Thursday, August 23rd at 8:10. Check out our Back to School Top Ten for helpful back to school information. Once again, we are focused on continuous improvement, so you can count on this year being our best year yet!
    With gratitude,
    Kristen Gracia
    Principal, Oak Knoll School