Principal Makela’s Message: November 2013

“You gain strength, courage by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.  You are able to say to yourself, “I have lived through this horror.  I can take the next thing that comes along.”  You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”
– Eleanor Roosevelt


On Tuesday Morning, I spent some time in Mr. Danysh’s class for their writing party.  What a joy to hear the incredible pieces of writing produced by the students during their daily writing workshop!  Over the weeks they have learned new skills, obviously applying them to their works.  They’ve written and revised, pushing themselves toward interesting, engaging pieces, beyond what they imagined they could do.  Mr. Danysh also pushed himself.  He took on the challenge of using a new curriculum, the Units of Study created by the Teachers’ College at Columbia University.  We purchased this curriculum to help us as we move toward Common Core State Standards.  It’s a challenging but excellent way of teaching writing that no doubt has taken much effort on his part to discern and implement.

When I left class, I drove to Alliance Redwoods, outside of Occidental, where our 6th graders are spending the week for science camp.  The drive itself is magnificent – colors changing on the apple trees and grape vines, rambling hillside and then into the redwoods.  We’re so lucky to live where we do, aren’t we?  The kids were eager to share the stories of their adventures.  Almost all said that their favorite part at that point had been a night hike on which they hiked a small section solo, in the dark.  Why?  They were proud of overcoming a fear of being in the dark, or in the dark alone.  In the afternoon I went zip-lining with one group.  The goal was to challenge themselves; to move beyond their fears, even if just a little.  As each one went, they cheered, they supported, they celebrated, even the small steps toward trying something that was scary and they were proud, proud of themselves and each other.

In both instances, students challenged themselves, enjoying the satisfaction of knowing that they had done something beyond what they thought they could; that their effort made a difference.  It is in this cross-section of work, play, exploration, and challenge that children really grow.  I’m so grateful to be a part of school community that provides these experiences for our children. It was a Tuesday like and unlike most.

Wishing you a month of gratitude for all that we have and are able to do,


International Night, 11/8, 6-8pm, in the MPR

Bring an appetizer or main dish, to share; something that represents your heritage! We are lucky to be such a diverse community.

Farewell Celebration for Jan Jones, 11/15, in the Library

Join us to celebrate our Ms. Jones, honoring her many years of bringing music to Madera, at a reception to be held in the library, after school on Friday, 11/15.