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Upcoming Events

Camping Trip Reflections

Graduating Family

It’s hard to believe that our family has been attending the Village camping trip for ten years, whether it has been for the full weekend experience or just one day of the weekend each year! In 2008, our daughter was a Kinder Kitty, our son was in preschool and our now 5th grader was only 11 months old! I enjoyed looking around during the six hours my youngest and I were there this month at the KOA, seeing all the new families who are where we were 10 years ago, with little ones in tow! It just made me realize that “way back then” really does not feel that long ago at all! I can appreciate when our whole family was able to travel together on these trips, even with how much work it felt like to get ready for a weekend of camping with three little ones, whereas now there are so many commitments that a middle schooler and high schooler have that there are times we can’t all travel together.

I asked the kids for their memories of the camping trips over the years. Some highlights include 3-day weekends at Thousand Trails campground, campfires, skit night, alum dad Steve Rappa playing guitar and singing with kids singing along and dancing, swimming in the freezing cold, huge pool, friends who “adopted” a feral kitten found at the campground, and hiking the trail above the playground that seemed so scary for parents to watch the kids climb, but kids having a blast!

Then at the KOA campground, being near the beach was a highlight for sure with picnics on the beach and boogie boarding Saturday afternoons, the bouncy pillow, banana bikes, potluck dinners, the independence our kids felt as they got older and played with friends at other campsites, but especially time with other families, making new friends and building on established friendships.

I love that this is an annual tradition, allowing people to connect early in the school year. I love that many teachers come — even when they have been with our kids all week! The camping committee should feel so proud of their hard work to make this community event happen, as well as the effort and energy it takes every family to make it “over the hill” on a Friday to keep this tradition alive!

For our family, remembering our years of Village camping trips is only the beginning of many reflections to come this year, our last year with this awesome Village community.

 

New Family

When we first found out about Village, we knew this could be a great place for our son. Village’s philosophy, school grounds, monthly field trips, and the idea behind centers appealed to us. Parent participation was also a huge plus. Positive Discipline and No Bully training provided to the parents are not really heard of in most schools so it was amazing to have this. Those that spoke during the open house and orientation were so passionate about Village — their openness, smiles and welcoming demeanor made us feel right at home.

During Kinder Roundup, our son immediately felt comfortable meeting both kindergarten teachers and exploring the school grounds. We were excited for him to start kindergarten, play, learn, and make new friends. I was also excited to meet new families and join in on events.

Camping was amazing. If you knew me from Gretchen’s class, I was the one that was all pumped up and so excited for camping — I was packed and ready to go a few days early. The KOA was absolutely perfect for a school camping trip, especially our very first. The choice of lodgings, along with the overall site made it within reach for anyone that may want to join. It was certainly a time to bond with other families and hang out more with those we already knew. Our camp neighbors were so nice to invite us over several times which made it even more wonderful. Families welcomed us and our son. We loved seeing him having such a wonderful time. It was great to see him hanging out with several of his classmates, having so much fun and also seeing the older kids happy to take him places and watch out for him. He felt so comfortable with other families and would just go from place to place with his friends.

Since school started we just love it more and more. I know he’s learning so much in so many ways. Staff, kids and parents are all so warm, friendly and kind. I’ve never seen anything other than smiles and people eager to help others.

Village is such a sweet school — we ask our son every day if he had a good day at school, and it’s always a, “Yes!” We couldn’t ask for a better start to his elementary years.

 

New Family

Our family loves to camp and we were looking forward to the Village Camping Trip. We had been pretty busy so we didn’t spend any time researching the campsite and because we have never camped at a KOA before, we didn’t really know what to expect. When we arrived at Watsonville KOA we were surprised to see all of the kid-friendly amenities. We are tent campers and to be honest I was not impressed with the tent sites because there was not much space on the sites and they are very close to the neighboring sites. However, that quickly didn’t matter because our neighbors were other kindergarten families and we spent most of our time at other campsites, cabins, the playground and the bouncy pillow.

Our daughters loved the freedom to roam with other friends, playing on the playground, bouncy pillow, riding the train and just checking out friends’ cabins/ campsites. Thankfully we followed the tip to bring walkie-talkies. I loved to see the older kids reaching out to my daughters and playing with them. My girls felt loved and special because the older girls included them. This has been an extra bonus to being a part of the Village community.

My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know other kindergarten parents, especially around the shared meals and campfires. Our experience on the Village Camping Trip only solidified what we have come to know already in our quick time as new Villagers… Village is a community that loves to have fun, looks out for each other, and is welcoming to all. We are so happy to be a part of the Village community and look forward to next year’s camping trip. We were so busy having fun, we only got one picture: a silly camping selfie.

Building a Makerspace

An Interview with 2nd Grade Teacher Elizabeth

Tell us about the new Makerspace! What was your inspiration?

It is a space where the students can go to create things. What they are creating is up to them and their teachers. It might be a time for them to just tinker with materials and come up with something on their own, or it might be a design thinking problem. They may be asked to create something that solves a problem at school, home, or in society at large. Different teachers are doing different things and integrating it into their curriculum in different ways.
 
I have been advocating for a Makerspace in our school. I think all of us have wanted to include this for our students, but it has definitely been a passion for me to get it up and running. Many schools, or rather most, have some type of space on their campus for this purpose.
 

How are art and music working with the new space? What changes will we see this year?
This year Art and the Makerspace will share Room 8. Music will be in the classrooms this year. We now contract with Rhythm and Moves, who also provide our PE curriculum.
 

When I think Makerspace I imagine power tools and hammers and hot glue guns and all sorts of cool stuff… Can you explain what our kids will have access to this year and what you hope to introduce? 
Well, the goal is for them to have access to all sorts of things. The room is a work in progress. I think eventually we will order some new tech tables and stools along with some storage so the students can access the materials they need to build and create. The idea is that they will learn to use these tools and they will be accessible to them during their time in the Makerspace. This will obviously depend on their grade level.
 

Anything else to add?
Makerspaces are popping up all over — not only in schools, but in community centers, libraries, and other places in our communities. They promote creativity and problem solving and provide access to materials to people who otherwise might not have access to these things.
  

Sharing Our Gifts With the Community

We all know we have an amazing group of parents at Village, but did you know we have a textile artist extraordinaire as well as a tiny house crafter? These two moms are sharing their creative gifts with the community this year through centers and their enthusiasm couldn’t be more contagious!

 

Q&A with JC, Village School Parent

Tell us what center you’re leading this year! How does it tie in with your personal passions/creative gifts?
This year I am leading a center called Mini House Design, inspired by the book If I Could Build A House, in which a kid dreams up a super fun, imaginative house and builds it. I thought it would be a fun idea because as an interior designer, I get to create spaces for my clients, and it has been an incredibly rewarding career. For me, work feels like play, and I’d like to offer an experience that may inspire some of these kids to follow their own dreams and perhaps strive toward a career that fills them with joy.

How does it make you feel to share a little bit of your creative world with the children?
I feel honored to share a little of my world with these kids because I know their daily experience at Village is carefully curated and very highly regarded, so to be a part of it is quite special. As an artist and designer I tend to undervalue my skills and profession sometimes, but leading this center has reminded me of the importance of what I do. Not only do I feel honored, but I feel grateful for the opportunity and the reminder that art and creativity are just as important as our other academic pursuits.

Any words of wisdom/advice for budding young designers?
My advice to young designers, and all students for that matter, is to follow your hearts and pay close attention to what fills you with joy. Have confidence in your strengths and don’t underestimate the power of creative thought.

 

Q&A with Erin, Village School Parent

Tell us what center you’re leading this year! How does it tie in with your personal passions/creative gifts?
This year I am leading the Weaving Center. I am really excited about it. I started weaving almost 2 years ago and absolutely love it. For me it is meditative. I love creating with textiles and seeing all of the different things you can create with different fibers and materials.

How does it make you feel to share a little bit of your creative world with the children?
I am very excited for this center! When I wrote the curriculum, I kept it to basic weaving techniques and left the rest of it open ended so the kids can create freely. I cannot wait to see what they come up with!

Any words of wisdom/advice for budding young weavers/textile lovers/knitters, etc.?
My advice is, don’t give up. My first weaving was a mess. The edges were not straight, and I didn’t know how to make fringe or finalize a weaving. I wanted to give up, but my artist friend found beauty in my mess and pushed me to keep going, and I am always grateful he did. Your first weaving or textile creation might not be perfect, but there is beauty in imperfection, and you can always learn from your mistakes.

I love this quote about creativity… “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” — Maya Angelou

Parenting Toolbox – Mission to "Make Time"

By Asami, Parent Education Trainer and Village School Parent

There are nights I am putting my kids to bed when I tell myself, “I’ll just close my eyes for a second…” then I wake up around 2am next to a drooling child, still in my clothes, about 1/3 of my makeup intact. I transfer the laundry from the washer to the dryer, making mental to-do lists for the next day as I survey the state of the house on my way to the kitchen to eat a bag of chips or a bowl of cereal over the sink for dinner. Last night it was a delicious bag of Trader Joe’s Nacho chips (need to add that to shopping list).
 

I hear similar stories from fellow parents of having a constant feeling of running to keep up with the volume of responsibilities.
 

In Dr. Jane Nelsen’s books “Positive Discipline For Working Parents” and “Positive Discipline for Today’s Busy (and Overwhelmed) Parent,” there is discussion on the topic of “Honoring Your Needs First”” When trying to keep up with the endless to-do lists, things parents tend to de-prioritize are often the very things that make life enjoyable. Fun activities, relaxing or time for self care can be viewed as luxuries or even as selfish compared to household tasks and supporting the needs of the family.
 

From my own experience, I have a hard time prioritizing exercise. When I exercise, I generally feel happier, more energized and patient. I am prompting the best version of myself. Everyone I am in close proximity with will benefit from this (I can see my husband nodding his head as he proofreads this). In addition, I am modeling to my children the importance of self care and life balancing.
 

When in the moment of feeling swallowed by emails, the lack of clean clothes, an empty refrigerator and running late to getting kids to an activity, finding time to exercise sounds impossible. But who suffers? Everyone. I do not get the immediate benefits, I am not able to be as focused or efficient at work, I have been told my attitude is curt and my children and husband get a non-Positive Discipline version of myself (I am the “before” version from Positive Discipline class role plays). In addition, I may be giving my children the impression that parenting is all work and obligations that require sacrificing doing things you enjoy. If my children choose to have their own families, I want them to spend time with friends, enjoy activities and prioritize their personal needs.
 

I believe my approach needs to change from “finding time” to “making time.” Another motivating tool is a visual aid. A fellow Parent Ed team member discussed taking a selfie of “scary mommy” — the face your child and loved ones see when you are irritated, when your lid is flipped. 
 

I did. Bummer… That lady is not someone who looks like she wants to listen or be kind or who is fun to be around. She looks like she is full of judgement and irritated by my mere existence. This is not even a true representation. I would ask my husband to take a real life example (plenty of opportunities), but he has his own wellbeing to consider.
 

If you have been able to prioritize self care, I salute you. If you are still finding this a challenge, I encourage you to consider joining me on a mission to “make time.”

No Bully – The Difference is in the Solution

An Interview with No Bully Pioneer Teacher Aisling and Principal David

While the phrase No Bully strikes an immediate chord in the current school climate of today, the program title does not fully convey what this truly solutions-based process is all about — respect, inclusiveness, and asset building for all those involved.

In July 2012, Seth’s Law, aimed at reducing the rise of bullying in California, prompted and required all public schools to adopt some sort of policy and procedure for identifying, receiving and investigating bullying complaints. In the spirit of the Village way, a group of teachers and parents partnered to research and select a program that not only checked all of these boxes, but went steps beyond.

Implemented in the 2013/14 school year, the No Bully system helps us not only identify, receive and investigate complaints, but also has a big-picture goal of building an inclusive school culture, and we have found that the difference is in the solution (Solution Teams, that is)!

But before we can talk solution (or Solution Teams, that is), it’s important that we understand what bullying is. According to No Bully, bullying occurs when a student repeatedly attempts to hurt, humiliate or exclude another less powerful student. The four main ways in which bullying happen are:

Physical Bullying — when a student uses physical force to hurt another student by hitting, pushing, shoving, kicking, taking a student’s belongings or stealing their money.

Verbal Bullying — when a student uses or gestures to humiliate another student by threatening, taunting, intimidating, insulting, sarcasm, name-calling, teasing, slurs, graffiti, put-downs and ridicule.

Relational Bullying — when a student isolates another student from their peer group through leaving them out, gossiping, spreading rumors, and scapegoating.

Cyberbullying — when a student uses a cell-phone, text messages, emails, instant messaging, chats, and social networking sites to harm another student in any of the ways described above.

Despite laws mandating schools to address bullying, the challenge for many has been finding effective solutions to not only meet the requirement, but create a real change. No Bully developed the No Bully system, a step-by-step process that focuses on four levels — Preventing bullying & building an inclusive culture, Interrupting bullying and referring instances of bullying to a Solution Coach, Holding a Solution Team and following up, and Implementing an empathy-building action plan.

While punitive responses to bullying are based on the belief that students involved in bullying lack the capacity for positive feeling and are best redirected by punishment, the No Bully System focuses on empathy, caring about each child and respecting their perspective and feelings. It’s this focus on no blame and support for social and emotional growth and learning that made it a good fit for Village.

Our north star or guiding principle in the implementation of No Bully at Village and our efforts to build that inclusive culture begins with our Village Vision statement —  

“We all belong. We are all significant.
As we work, learn and play, we come together with compassion and respect.”

Developed by the community at the start of the implementation of No Bully over five years ago, this Vision Statement is what we strive to be, and we put these words into action every day with our Village Values — Modeling Respect, Making Good Choices and Solving Problems.

There are countless examples of our M&MS in action on our Village campus each day, but we also have instances where kids are still learning how to socially interact and are trying behaviors that don’t align with our Vision & Values. This is why we are so lucky to be at a parent participation school where we have lots of adults on campus, and each of us plays a vital role in the No Bully process by watching, interrupting and reporting any negative, targeted and repeated social interactions amongst kids.

If you do witness actions that may be bullying, please complete the Adult Report Form available in the office. Our No Bully team of Solution Coaches, made up of teachers and staff, will investigate and decide the best next steps, one of which might be a Solution Team.

Teachers Aisling and Chris and staff member Michele were trained as Solution Coaches at the onset of No Bully, and along with former Village staff member Becky. Seeing the value and success in the process, there is good news to report, our team of Solution Coaches has expanded! In October, teachers Gretchen, Talia and Roberta received training through the No Bully program and are also now available to run Solution Teams. Additionally, our new administrative assistant Veronica will be trained very soon.

Of course, not all negative social interactions amongst kids are bullying. Many are student  conflict, and it’s important to note the difference. Conflict occurs when two students disagree because each perceives the other is getting in the way of their needs, concerns, or goals. While conflict is not bullying, conflict can become bullying if a child repeatedly attempts to take power over another to resolve conflict by using physical or verbal abuse.

Trained to know the difference and respond in the most appropriate way, our Solution Coaches combine empathy with action and aim to add tools to students’ social toolboxes, either via Solution Teams or other means of support, focusing on social emotional growth and especially Empathy, one of the 5 competencies included in Campbell Union School District’s Profile of a Graduate.

“Empathy ties in directly with what students develop through working on a Solution Team,” says Principal David, “And supports Village’s core belief of focusing on the whole child.”

If it’s decided that a Solution Team might be a helpful option, the Solution Team coach would first get permission from the targeted child. At this point, the targeted child’s parent would also be looped in, so they are aware of the situation and know that their child has been given the option of a Solution Team and what he/she has chosen.

“This process is about the child being given, and having the power of, a voice to talk to us and to have another adult to check in with and help them relationship-build,” says Teacher Aisling. “A team only happens if the targeted child wants it. If not, we might identify other ways to help that child and other children involved with whatever asset(s) they are working on building.”

In a Solution Team, the group is brought together with one focus in mind, says Teacher Aisling, “What can we do to help?” The Solution Team coach facilitates the discussion and has everyone in the group provide a suggestion. After this initial solution-brainstorming session, the group is then brought back together for quick check-ins to see if they have been able to try any of their suggestions and how it went. For example, when a student was asked what she did to help on a Solution Team, she said, “I sat with her at lunch.”

While the team takes a collaborative approach, the Solution Coaches will also work with both the target and bully individually to build assets, says Teacher Aisling. Often times the child in the perceived role of bully can be lacking skills that lead to the bullying behavior.

From start to finish, the Solution Team process takes about three-four weeks with a three month follow up. All Solution Team coaches meet with teams during their prep periods, so kids are not missing recess and don’t feel as if they are being punished in any way, says teacher Aisling. Parents of those children involved will receive a notice that their child has participated in a Solution Team. If you receive a notice, please ask your child what they did to help. This will only reinforce their asset-building. And most of all, trust the process, says Teacher Aisling. The coaches do keep a log of all reports and Solution Teams, but there is no public reporting done in order to protect all the kids’ privacy and to help ensure kids aren’t stuck in a perceived role of target or bully.

As part of a proactive approach, our Solution coaches also manage Welcome Teams, which were created to help new Village students, 1st–5th grades to acclimate to a new school and community. Solution Team coaches meet with each new student at the beginning of the year and “get to know” them and offer whatever support they may need to make connections and feel safe, so they can get off to a good start.

No Bully and its use of Solution Teams is not just a program, but a means of using empathy to problem solve, and a tool for helping our community continue to strive to build a culture of inclusiveness. Principal David is pleased to share that since our adoption of the No Bully program, the number of Solution Teams run per year has decreased, which means it’s working! Research shows that ALL kids are capable of empathy and kindness, and we want to create conditions that support and reinforce these behaviors in OUR Village.