Dear Madera Families,

Dear Madera Families,

The start of the school year is such an exciting time! With lots of new things to learn, new people to meet, familiar friends, wonderful school traditions… we come to each year with anticipation of what the year will hold. Sixty years ago at this time, the school building was being finished, in anticipation for the students who would come in early 2017. Though much has changed over the years, the strong sense of community and commitment to creating a wonderful place for children to learn and grow remains a hallmark of our school community. I look forward to all that we will do together this year to contribute to and celebrate this longstanding tradition.

Thanks to the hard work of teachers, staff, and parents, we’ve had a very smooth start. School opened with a little over 500 smiling, eager children, ready to learn, work and play together. Please join me in welcoming the new staff members who join us in our work! Juliet Jamsheed comes to us from Harding to teach our 5th and 6th grade combination class. Full-inclusion teachers, Jared Williams and Alexis Ozuna come to us from CSU East Bay to lead our full-inclusion program. And, last but not least, Madera parents, Kristy Mann and Andrew Geen, joined our staff the day before school opened to job-share a 2nd grade class.

This year we look forward to continuing our focus on writing using the Units of Study program created by Columbia University’s Teachers College Reading and Writing Project (TCRWP). Many of our teachers have taken on the reading program as well. Eight teachers attended TCRWP Summer Institutes over the summer, two in Los Angeles and six in New York. They return with new insights to benefit us all and will be guiding our staff as well as others in our district. We’re thrilled that this year we have become a Project School which means staff developers from Teachers College will be coming to work with us throughout the year.

The reading and writing program we use develops our teaching skills as facilitators of learning so that students can engage in high level thinking that is personalized and authentic. Our Caring School Community curriculum for class meetings and cross-age buddy classes; faculty learning about creating identity safe, developmentally appropriate classrooms; and, increasing work with Visual Thinking Strategies, all support this shift. In addition, we’ve begun to look at how we can build upon the workshop model in math, most recently learning about Number Talks. Ask your children about this; they love it!

There’s so much more to say as a full year lies ahead of us so, more to come. For now, please know that we are honored that you entrust your children to us every day. Come to us if you have concerns, questions or ideas. Truly, the stronger our partnership the better we do. Our school is evidence of that!

Here’s to a great year, full of wonder and joyful learning!

Alison Makela
Principal, Madera Elementary School