Principal’s Monthly Message 9/9/2014

Sep 10, 2014 by

Principal’s Monthly Message 9/9/2014
Dear Montclair Elementary School families,
A warm welcome to all of you! Here’s hoping that everyone has had a great start to the school year. We’re thrilled to welcome our new families and also glad to see so many returning faces, and are looking forward to another outstanding year of community, camaraderie, and learning.


In addition to our new students, we’re pleased to announce several additions to our MES staff and faculty. Joining us this year are:

  • Nancy Steimle, kindergarten
  • Christopher Winslow, 3rd grade
  • Lynette Neidhardt, STIP sub
  • Sophie Seigmann, art and enrichment
  • Susan White, library
  • Maria Cortez, cafeteria
  • Aleta Sanchez, prep/PE
  • Jerem Pfeifer, student teacher with Ms. Rasul
  • Peter Limata, student teacher with Ms. Turcitu
  • Jill Akin, student teacher with Ms. Woodruff


To start the year off right, please keep these clothing guidelines in mind to help keep your kids safe and comfortable.

  • Choose appropriate footwear for our multi-terrain playgrounds. Flip-flops can cause falls and stubbed toes — and don’t work well for climbing play at recess.
  • Remind your children to wear tennis shoes on PE days!
  • Straps on tank tops should be at least as wide as two adult fingers.
  • Shorts and skirts should be no shorter than a child’s fingertips when his/her arms are hanging at their sides.
  • Active girls might consider wearing bike shorts under skirts, especially if they plan to spend time upside down on the monkey bars (but this is of course optional).
  • Please label ALL clothing items, lunchboxes, backpacks, etc. with your child’s first AND last name.
  • We have three lost-and-found areas that you should check regularly:
    1. On the hallway hooks across from the girls’ bathroom in the lower building
    2. In the cafeteria (most abandoned lunch items will be here)
    3. The office (for smaller items like jewelry)
At the end of each month, all unclaimed lost-and-found items are donated to charity.


We get it: Drop-off and pick-up can be a mammoth pain in the you-know-what. But if we work together and observe common courtesy, things can go much more smoothly and safely. For the best possible experience, please remember these guidelines:

  • Never send your child running across Mountain Boulevard if you pull over on the street. It’s incredibly dangerous!
  • When you enter the lot for drop-off, please pull all the way forward to the back parking area. Stopping in the front parking area can cause traffic to back up into Mountain Boulevard.
  • Exit the lot correctly, by driving all the way through the back parking area. This ensures the smooth flow of traffic.
  • Never, ever, double park so you are blocking in another car.
  • Similarly, please don’t block our neighbors’ driveways on Mountain Boulevard.
  • Make sure you have a green MES sticker prominently displayed on your car. The lot is for school parking only during school hours; cars without stickers will be towed. You can pick up stickers for free in the office.

To save yourself some headaches, consider parking in a legal street spot in the neighborhood or next to Montclair Park, or on the roof deck at Lucky supermarket if you’re walking your child in. Remember not to leave packages, backpacks, and purses visible in your vehicles — school drop-off is a prime target time for smash-and-grab activity. Above all, please model courteous and safe driving and parking behavior for your kids.

With an enrollment this year of 575 students, we’ve nonetheless managed to beat the new state standards for class size. The average class size across our 17 K-3 classes is 24.1 students (below the state standard of 24.8), while in grades 4 and 5 our average is 29 (state standard is 31).

We have also implemented some optional changes to our homework policies.
Many teachers are opting in to thenew homework model, which reduces daily worksheets and assignments in favor of expanded reading requirements, challenge problems in math, and longer-term projects that require planning, organization, and sustained effort on the part of students. This research-based approach is designed to help our students develop critical thinking and an exploration mindset rather than regurgitating rote facts, and aligns with the Common Core ethos about arriving at a solution rather than simply spitting out an answer.

Our new approach is reflective of recent research that suggests we need to improve on “traditional” homework models. If you’re interested in reading more, we suggest the following links:



We are thrilled to continue our cooking kitchen lunch program, along with our breakfast program. Please support it so we can keep the gourmet meals coming! You can sign your child up for daily meals or once-in-a-while use (just think of the time you’ll save not having to pack that lunchbox). Quick details:

  • Meals are $2.50 per student (please note: it’s a $0.25 increase from last year).
  • Pay in advance by giving a check to Mrs. Cortez in the cafeteria between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m.
  • Reduced-price lunches are also available; for more information, please visit
  • Don’t forget to tell your kids to grab a free breakfast! Even if they aren’t hungry in the morning, they’ll have a great snack later in the day.

We’re also excited about piloting a new OUSD program in our cafeteria: a biometric ID process that will replace the photo ID lunch cards we’d been using. Please note this is NOT fingerprinting! This system measures the unique proportions of your child’s thumb and uses this data for quick, easy, and accurate ID verification. We are the only OUSD school selected to pilot this program and we’re looking forward to the benefits: faster lunch lines, no lost cards (or fees), and — most importantly — more time for your kids to eat, relax, and recharge. We think you’ll love the improvement, but please be assured that participation is optional. If you have any concerns, pleasespeak with Nancy Bloom and we will have your child continue to use the old ID card system.



  • September 26: Family Outdoor Movie Night! Entrance is free, and concession sales will raise funds for the 5th grade field trip.
  • October 10: No school for Professional Development Day
  • October 18: OTTER WALK!! This is the MES community event of the year. New parents, don’t let your kids miss out! It’s a walk-a-thon, it’s a fundraiser, it’s a carnival, it’s an unbelievably great time that our students talk about for weeks to come. If you’d like to get involved, please email
As always, Nancy Bloom maintains an open-door policy and welcomes questions or feedback. Please also feel free to contact PTA Board members (listed below), or the Communications Committee (Lauren Disston,; CC Holland,; Ann Sinclair,; Tina Rundel,; or Libbi Ziegler, with questions or comments.
CC Holland
(on behalf of Nancy Bloom and the Communications Committee)
PTA BOARD MEMBERS (2014-2015):


President: Amy Omand


EVP Internal Affairs: Wonny Mullen


EVP External Affairs: Alice Hansen


VP, Programs: Johanna Jones


VP, Membership: Michelle Branner


VP, Fundraising: Jennifer Keith


VP, Technology: Candace Apple


VP, Diversity and Outreach: Marivic Hammond


VP, Community Programs and Events: Corinne Welpton


VP, Communications: Monica Mehta
Treasurer: John Uselman


Financial Secretary: Kevin Tam


Recording Secretary: Sharleen Haarsma


Historian: Jennifer Ames


Auditor: Amy Neumann


Parliamentarian: Julie Eads


Teacher Representative: Julie Chanter

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