5 Reasons We Go Camping

Grades 4 and 5 at Trinity School attend an outdoor education program lead by Naturalists at Large, focusing on natural science and team building. Today students return from a three-day trip to Pinnacles National Park, which is about 35 miles south of Hollister, CA. Year to year I’m reminded of why this trip is so important for students. Here are my top five reasons:

  1. Nature teaches. Surrounded by the great outdoors, students observed why and how the earth has formed itself in the way that it has in that particular place. They learn how each element or creature has its parts in the greater whole.
  2. Nature inspires. Hiking through different terrains, watching how day transitions into night, being awed by the great night sky – children see themselves differently; wonder transforms.
  3. Nature invites. With this introduction, with the leadership of engaging and fun naturalists, students want to come back. Wonderful.
  4. Nature toughens. What to do when you are too hot, when the night is getting chilly, when there is a bug in your path, or in your tent! Nature is nature and students ask practical questions and get just right support for figuring out how to navigate themselves and their belongings in a new environment.
  5. Students grow. When we, the adults – naturalists, teachers, parents, see the victory on children’s faces – for a hike completed – for a dinner they have helped prepare – for a stuck zipper conquered – for a fun game completed – for a friend to walk to the bathroom with – for coming home a little taller, a little more self-reliant, tired and renewed – then I know that these trips are right and good for our students and that we’ll be back next year.

Fund a Need 2016

Saturday Night, the Benefit will feature a Fund a Need at the end of the Live Auction. During Fund a Need, we simply ask for your monetary support of two special and timely projects outside of our operating budget: 1) a sports court for the smaller basketball court, and 2) a Library make-over, featuring new tables, seating, and a small but hearty Maker’s Place.

Here’s why…

Sports Court: The Upper Campus has two basketball courts, and parents have expressed interest in having the lower, and larger asphalt court covered in a safer sports court surfacing. The reason we are focusing instead on the smaller basketball court (located near the play structure) for now is that within a very few years, the school will launch a remodel/rebuild of the original classroom building. When that happens, a logical staging area for construction materials will be that lower basketball court, resulting in the removal/etc. of the sports court surfacing. So for now, we want to focus on the smaller basketball court. Then, at a later date, we can come back to the larger basketball court.

Library Make-Over: Yet another thing I love about Becky Zeren is her wholehearted support of change and renewal. “Time for a change!” I have heard her say again and again in enthusiastic support of Library transitions this year, and I once more thank her for her goodwill. Here’s why we want to change the tables and seating and reconfigure the circulation desk –

  • The Library tables are heavy and yet Becky moves them at least once daily – if not more often.
  • The lovely tables were given by a generous past trustee over 20 years ago, and we will find a worthy new home for them. It’s a new century!
  • Lighter and flexible tables and seating options open our beloved Library keep it at the “heart of the School” while making its resources respond more easily to its many users.
  • Opening the circulation desk by removing the center counter, opens the space to more flexible uses. (Sorry Becky, I know you have wanted this for years! But now we do it and these other improvements in honor of your legacy!)

The Trinity School Community has resoundingly and generously supported Fund a Need at each year’s Benefit. Through prior Fund a Needs, we have engendered an endowment for financial assistance, a breathtaking accomplishment for our intimate community! Last year it was our joy to support Peter Hanson and his family – and – Peter is currently thriving at Menlo School! Thank you in advance for your generous support of this year’s Fund a Need. Your generosity helps us make good changes for your children.

Make the Most of Spring Conferences

Spring Conferences are for every Trinity student this year. In prior years Spring Conferences were optional, yet now we encourage parents to take full advantage of this great opportunity to check in with your child’s teacher this spring. But how to get the most out of this special meeting? Consider these three points:

What do teachers like to emphasize at Spring Conference?

  • Spring Conference is about the big picture of the year – where the child started and growth.
  • I share the child’s growth and progress as well as goals we are still working on.
  • I celebrate how well I know and love each child academically and in stories about the child.
  • I talk about what the child is proud of in her/his growth and what I see them still wanting to learn.
  • I talk about the friendships each child is enjoying and about social emotional growth I see.
  • I like to connect with families – celebrate the the child!
  • So much social emotional maturity has taken place. It is as important as academic growth.

What do teachers wish parents would ask at Spring Conference?

  • I wish parents would ask about what they could be doing at home to support their child – because it can be awkward to bring this topic forward if I don’t know the parent is open to it.
  • Ask me where I see growth and progress and what goals we are still working on.
  • If you ask about summer, please know that we still have several months of learning ahead.

These are some teacher wishes for Spring Conferences:

  • There is still much to focus on for this year before we start thinking about summer – yet I realize we may not have another conversation at this depth before summer. Its finding that balance.
  • Prepare for the next grade in the form of a productive transition. Summer is a great time to keep reading and maybe focus on a particular area a child needs support in.
  • I hope parents can approach summer gently and not feel like they need to cram in the next grade’s content before the child gets there. Let the next year unfold in its own time. Keep the momentum of learning and growing. The year isn’t over yet!

For Early Childhood Program parents, I hope you had productive conferences last week. For K-Grade 5 parents, as you ponder the time you will spend with your child’s teacher this Thursday and Friday, I hope these considerations will support beneficial conversations.

Update on Middle School Transition

Middle school admission information arrived to fifth graders applying to independent middle schools. I thank our community for giving needed space to the children and the families as each has worked with their options, including with respect to the waitlist process, which is still underway. At a later point this spring, after the placement process is complete, I will share aggregated placement results. For now I wanted to share some information on the general placement environment in this exceptionally competitive year.

Overall, applications to middle schools increased again this year, bringing many schools to an all time high. Independent middle schools respect sibling applicants, children of alumni, and faculty children. Yet, because of high numbers within those categories, not all of those applicants, who represented many elementary schools, were admitted. Schools also consider such factors as gender balance while forming mission appropriate sixth grade classes. After decisions were reported, I reached out to Admission Directors, receiving the following examples of sixth grade application numbers:

  • Menlo School had 15% more applications for sixth grade than last year and enough sibling or legacy families to potentially fill half the class.
  • Priory had over 200 sixth grade applications for 34 places and gives priority to Portola Valley, Catholic, and the more than 20 sibling/legacy/faculty families.
  • Crystal Springs had over 240 sixth grade applications for 36 places with more than half that number of sibling/legacy/faculty families to consider.
  • Sacred Heart Schools had openings for six students who were not sibling/faculty/legacy considerations.
  • Castilleja had around 250 applications for their two sections of sixth grade.
  • There are also K-8 schools to which families applied. I don’t yet have application numbers for them, but know that applications have been up in general.

I’m sharing this information because at this time in the placement process a variety of statistics  can come up in conversations. A goal in our newly published strategic plan encourages our further exploration of the middle school transition process. Following Spring Break we will meet with middle school Admission Directors from a variety of schools to further understand if increased application numbers represent a changing placement landscape and, if so, how best to support families next year and beyond.

You Will Go to Sixth Grade

Dear Class of 2016,

Later today and over the weekend you will learn about the results of your applications to independent middle schools, if you applied to them. This is a special time for you and your family. As you receive the results, whether good news or disappointing news, I hope that you will remember…

We believe in you: your teachers, everyone who works at Trinity School, your friends, your parents, and I – we all know you and believe in the goodness of you. We trust that you are ready for sixth grade – whatever school you go to next.

You are a well prepared learner, a problem solver, a person of integrity and a good friend to others. You know how to ask good questions and how to use your voice for good. Nothing in today’s decisions can change that.

You are so much more than the decision a school gives you – whether that decision makes you happy or whether you wish for something different. You are your whole self – the person who has worked hard in every grade and who has learned and grown into the beautiful person we know you to be.

You will go to sixth grade. Because everyone does. Sixth grade and middle school is just one more step in the very big picture of your whole becoming. You are well prepared to be a leader, to have fun, to work hard, and to keep on becoming the person you are meant to be.

There is so much we don’t control in the picture of admission decisions. Lots and lots of people apply – way more than can be accepted. So if you get admission to a school, wonderful. You now have to think if this would be the next best step for you in your learning and growing. If you don’t get accepted, it isn’t about YOU. Even though it might feel like that. Decisions are very much about numbers and the many considerations schools have to make as they form a class.

Whatever your choices look like this weekend, you will go to sixth grade and you will learn and grow in amazing ways you can’t even imagine today. You are the gift of you to yourself. We believe in you.

Mrs. Menacho

Your Kind Consideration for Grade 5 Students and Families

This Friday Grade 5 children and their families will learn of independent school admission decisions. From year to year we see that some have exciting news to celebrate. Others are managing the information received. All are managing the choices that are ahead. Our loving support for these students and families is to give them some space at this time. That support looks like this:

  • Please don’t ask a Grade 5 student or parent about the child’s admission decisions. When families are ready, they will share.
  • Please counsel your child, especially third and fourth grade students to also refrain from asking.

Friday represents the initial round of decisions. Over the next several weeks, students who may have been waitlisted may receive an admission – that is to say, the results for students and for families will be somewhat fluid over the next weeks.

When I know that all of the Grade 5 students are placed for next year, I will report to our community on the overall placement process and results for this year. This will be later in the spring.

Meanwhile, thank you for your loving consideration and support for our Grade 5 families and students.