Many of you are already aware that throughout our nation and world, school districts have reported seeing a dramatic increase in the levels of stress, anxiety, and trauma in our students. Stress, anxiety, and trauma present a barrier to learning, and they are leading to an increase in behavioral challenges and even threats of violence.
While we anticipated a pandemic-created increase in behavior challenges, the need for teacher and staff support, in particular for our school counselors and mental health professionals, is in high demand. Feeling safe on a school campus is critical to the learning environment of students and staff. Thus, it is incumbent upon all of us to support our students and educators to help maintain a safe and positive environment for our school communities. As a parent, I found this New York Times article about Creating Safe Spaces and Developing Emotional Intelligence in Your Children to be a helpful way to speak with my children, and I hope it is useful to you. Talking to your children about their feelings and helping them express their joys, fears, and hopes can help them develop a better sense of comfort and belonging.
As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, I encourage you to take a moment to reflect on things for which you are grateful. I am grateful for my family, I am grateful that we live in a relatively peaceful part of the world. I am grateful that our children have a big, wonderful world to explore, and I am grateful to work with such a kind, dedicated, and engaged group of professionals in PCS. Research shows that giving thanks can make us happier. Gratitude is great for adults and children alike and can be a conversation starter at dinner time or bedtime. Expressing gratitude is good for us for many reasons: it can reduce impatience, it can help us focus on what we have versus what we are lacking, and it can help us focus on the present. (All things I desperately need help with myself!)
One thing I’m going to do this next week for Thanksgiving is bring back our family practice of writing in Gratitude Journals, which are simple dinnertime journals for the entire family to show gratitude and share with each other. These journals give my children, my wife, and I a space to pause and focus each night on the things for which we are most grateful.
I hope you all have a wonderful week and stay grateful!
Matthew Harris Superintendent, Petaluma City Schools
COVID-19 Vaccine Update
As many of you are aware from our last newsletter, on October 1st, Governor Newsom announced a Governor’s vaccine mandate. We had shared that we would keep you updated if we heard any news. Recently, the Sonoma County Office of Education (SCOE) received an update from Governor Newsom’s office that, at this point, the Governor’s State Mandate for a COVID-19 Vaccination is not anticipated to start until the 2022-23 school year and before going into effect, this mandate would require the FDA’s full approval of the COVID vaccine for each age group. Again, as additional information becomes available, we will keep you updated.
Make a Difference for Children in our Community: Career Opportunities with PCS
Have you ever thought about working in education and making a difference in the lives of children in our community? Consider a job with us at Petaluma City Schools! We have multiple openings in a variety of jobs throughout the District, including full-time and part-time opportunities. For us to best serve students, we need the community's help in getting fully staffed. If you yourself aren't looking, please share this information! We have both full-time and flexible, part-time positions - linked here is a list of our Open Positions.
On November 17th, our District held the first of seven Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) meetings for the 2021-22 annual update. On the committee, we have representation from families, teachers, staff, students, community members, board members, and administrators, with at least one representative from every school site in our District.
The key takeaways from our first meeting are as follows:
The committee reviewed our District/LCAP goals and outlined the purpose of the LCAP committee, which is to identify and support multiple opportunities to listen to Petaluma’s diverse educational partner groups, to capture community thoughts, look for trends, and make advisory recommendations to revisions and improvements to the District’s three-year LCAP. Our end goal is to provide our Board of Education with a well-thought-out annual update to adopt in June of 2022.
The committee members grounded themselves in data, looking specifically at engagement, culture, and relationships. Both qualitative and quantitative data will be vital for our committee, as we move forward and improve how we serve students.
The committee reviewed and edited questions for our upcoming student, staff, and parent/guardian panels, which will be held in upcoming meetings.
We want to thank and appreciate everyone who participated and encourage you to participate as an educational partner throughout this process. Our meetings take place via Zoom and are scheduled for the following dates from 4:00 - 5:30 PM:
Fun Run: Our Family Holiday Fun Run is coming up and we have 500 participants registered. If you are interested in volunteering for this event, please contact Gina Roberts at email@example.com
Elementary Soccer: On November 6th we had our first ever PCS elementary soccer tournament. What an amazing sight to see students from all of our PCS elementary schools coming together to build community, get exercise, and show off their soccer skills. Thank you to all of the parent volunteers who helped make this league such a success! [Soccer photo courtesy of Chris Lum]
Community Clean-Up: We also had our first PCS community clean-up. Thanks to all of the students, parents, staff members, and board members who came out to help clean up our community. We picked up almost 2,000 pieces of garbage! Thank you to Jenny Stock, our guest speaker, and Katrina Fraley for all of the support in putting this event together. We look forward to hosting another clean-up in the spring.
Student Voice Forums On November 16th, PCS had its first student forum. It was an honor for us to have the opportunity to share a space with our student panel. Thank you to the students who participated and brought thoughtful and honest comments to the forum!
For any questions please contact our District Wellness Coordinator, Jimena Gomez, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Substance-Abuse Support for Teens Update PCS will be hosting a parent information night in regards to the opioid/fentanyl crisis on December 9, 2021 via zoom. More details will be provided as we get closer to the date. Additionally, PCS has applied for the Free NARCAN Nasal Spray High School Program and we have been awarded NARCAN by Adapt Pharma, Inc., which will be delivered sometime in December 2021. Training on how to administer Narcan will be provided to our staff. PCS continues to work on its partnering with Narcotic Anonymous to start a substance-abuse support group at our high schools.
Parent Workshops If you looking for support and parenting ideas, the following free online workshops are sponsored by the Child Parent Institute (CPI) in the coming weeks:
More information and helpful workshops can be found on the Child Parent Institute website. Please note: These are not school or District events. As such, Petaluma City Schools District does not sponsor, staff, supervise, support, or endorse the information, activities, or events posted.
Community Resources If you are looking for family resources, Buckelew Programs shared with us November’s monthly resource community packet. The packet contains information on various support groups, rental assistance, community events, and much more. Please note: These are not school or District resources. As such, Petaluma City Schools District does not sponsor, staff, supervise, support, or endorse the information, activities, or events posted.
Student Board Members
Petaluma City Schools will soon have student board member representatives! The PCS Board of Education believes it is important to seek out and consider students' ideas, reactions, and input when making decisions for our District. As such, the Board has passed a new Board Policy to bring student board members to PCS, in order for students to participate in District governance and learn more about the importance of civic engagement. There will be one student from Casa Grande, one student from Petaluma High, and one student to represent the alternative and continuation high schools. Student board members will be announced in early December and will attend an orientation before taking their post as student board members for the 2021-22 school year. PCS is excited to add student voices to our governance process.
United Anglers of Casa Grande
This year, the United Anglers of Casa Grande (UACG) are celebrating their 39th year of conservation. It is the only student-run conservation hatchery of its kind in the country and is used as a model by other countries. This student-run facility has three main purposes: to support local fish species in the case of an emergency situation, to educate the community, and to provide students with a unique learning experience. This year students have really stepped up and are currently taking care of thousands of endangered Coho salmon and will continue to do so when they receive 80,000 Coho eggs from Santa Cruz later this year. This will be the first time in UACG's history of ever incubating and rearing Coho, and the most fish our hatchery has ever seen!
On November 6th, our students put on their fall fundraiser at the Petaluma Community Center. This successful event brought in hundreds of supporters and alumni from throughout the community. During the event, students held a silent auction, raffle, virtual tour, and cake auction. This year's cake auction raised over $11,000 dollars! It was an exciting night, made possible by our students. We'd like to give a big thank you to all of the community support! This incredible program is made possible by the funds raised by our community supporters.
McNear's New Principal
Welcome to Melissa Becker who started on November 18th as the new principal of McNear Elementary! Ms. Becker served as the principal of Meadow School for the past 17 years and was the Sonoma County Elementary Principal of the Year in 2009. You can read more about Ms. Becker in this Argus-Courier article.
From the Sonoma County Office of Education: Resources for Winter Holiday Celebrations in Public Schools
This year, the first night of Hanukkah is Sunday, November 28th, and other significant holidays are just around the corner.
Sonoma County high schools are invited to participate in Poetry Out Loud (POL), a free program supported by California Poets in the Schools. POL provides a poet teacher and resources to help high school students create and recite their poems. Students can continue on to participate in a county-wide competition. All levels of participation are possible! You can find out more by visiting the Creative Sonoma website. Please note: This is not a school or District event. As such, Petaluma City Schools District does not sponsor, staff, supervise, support or endorse the information, activities, or events posted.
Petaluma High Wildlife Museum Event
On December 4th from 11:00 AM - 3:00 PM, the Petaluma Wildlife Museum (PWM) on the Petaluma High campus is hosting their Winter Wildlife event, Slothmas. In this joint collaboration between Classroom Safari and the PWM, participants can get up-close and personal with gators, porcupines, hedgehogs, giant snakes, ancient chickens, and more! There will also be an ugly sweater contest, animal photo opportunities, raffles, games, prizes, and a silent auction. All proceeds from Slothmas will go to the Petaluma Wildlife Museum and Classroom Safari.
Community News & Events
Upcoming Events Please note: These are not school or District events. As such, Petaluma City Schools District does not sponsor, staff, supervise, support or endorse the information, activities, or events posted.
Cool City Challenge The Cool City Challenge awarded Petaluma a $1 million dollar grant to fund climate action through a community-based effort that focuses on building up networks to help neighborhoods become more planet friendly, disaster resilient, and community rich. This month and next month will be spent creating the infrastructure for what will be called “Cool Petaluma.” The official launch of the program will take place in January of 2022. If you're interested in being part of Cool Petaluma, you can sign up for their Cool Block Leader Information Sessions.