Archive | Bulletin Letters

September 27 – My share of the bulletin

What a great week!

On Tuesday evening, we had a strong turnout for the Community Gathering.  People enjoyed good company, delicious pizza, chalk drawing on the playground, and an opportunity to share what they love about Crocker.  We also got feedback about potential areas for growth.  In the not-too-distant future, we will find out what you all had to say.  The teachers, School Site Council, and PTA will all look at it as we work together to continuously improve our school.

Friday morning we were treated to concerts by the Pacific Boys’ Choir.  They sang songs that ranged from three to eight part harmony and included lyrics in multiple languages.  The audience got to participate in a song from Africa by clapping out one of two different rhythms while a drummer played a third and the choir sang in four parts.  They ended the show with “Lean on Me,” a song most kids had learned last year with Ms. Rose.

The fifth grade bake sale was a huge success!  Thank you to the very cooperative fifth graders who sold the goods with polite smiles and gracious attitudes, and to the many families who provided and/or purchased the treats.  One hundred percent of the money you raised goes straight to their upcoming Redwood Alliance overnight field trip.

After school safety on the yard is important! Please do not ride scooters, skateboards or bicycles on the playground after school.  Also, you might not realize this but Adventure Time leases the playground space until 6:00 pm every day after school.  This means that other than the supervised basketball and football programs, students may not use the school playground until after 6:00 pm on school days and on weekends unless they are enrolled in Adventure Time.  If you have older children, please let them know that they may not play, ride bikes or climb the fences on the Crocker Highlands yard during that time.  Finally, please remember that dogs and other pets are never allowed on school grounds.

Thank you to the OUSD Buildings and Grounds folks!  This week the padding under the kindergarten play structure was repaired.  In addition, we have a new gate on the Midcrest side of the school next to the amphitheater so that the whole playground can be secured.

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Class Placement for 2013-2014

Some parents, especially those new to Crocker this year, might be wondering about the process we use to assign students to classes for the upcoming school year. When we create classrooms, we create the appropriate number of balanced groups, depending upon the grade level. I work with the teachers to create balanced classrooms, and we do our best to provide the most appropriate learning experience for every child. We consider gender, ethnicity, academic skills, energy level, and parent involvement in creating balanced classrooms. At Crocker Highlands, we support all our teachers and continue to move towards greater collaboration at each grade level. Although we believe each teacher has unique strengths to offer, all teachers at Crocker are highly-qualified. Therefore, we ask that you do not request a specific teacher. You are welcome to send an email to your child’s current teacher or myself letting us know the type of learning environment that you feel is best for your child. (I am unable to meet with every parent to discuss every child’s classroom needs)

Thank you for your support and understanding.

Beth Rhine


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Please Take the California Healthy Kids Survey (CHKS)

Dear Crocker Families,

We are asking all parents/guardians to take a few minutes to complete the California Healthy Kids Survey, CHKS.   It is an important source of information.  Last year, we had only 32% percent of parents/guardians participate and we need to hear all of your voices! You can take the survey on-line by following the link and instructions below.  If you prefer a paper version of the survey, you should be receiving one from your student’s teacher.  Just fill it our and return to your teacher before February 28.  There will also be extra copies in the office. California Healthy Kids Survey has been conducted at OUSD since 1998.  It is a powerful tool to develop positive school climate.  First, assessment brings awareness, followed by process of developing specific school strategies to bring about the care and support that we all need (parents, students and staff) to be successful. Purpose: The information you provide will help guide district and school efforts to promote safety, improve learning supports, improve student achievement, and reduce health risks that stand as barriers to learning.

  • This is a confidential survey. It is designed so that parents cannot be identified.
  • Your participation is voluntary.
  • All questions apply to this school only.
  • The results are for the use of your school.
  • Description:  This survey obtains Parent perceptions of staff behavior and attitudes, school programs and policies, and the overall Community School Climate as they relate to student well-being and learning. It deals with how well the school is serving your child.

To access the survey, click on the link below:

And the school code is:  HC72TG

Thank you! Beth Rhine

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Bulletin 2012.12.10

Dear Crocker Families,

It’s a crazy time of year and we are feeling it at school.  With the holiday season and all it entails (i.e., shopping, celebrations and parties, extended family visiting, travel plans, school vacation), many of us are feeling a little stressed.  In addition to their regular teaching day, the teachers are also working on report cards and holding parent conferences.  We had the Book Fair last week, and next week we have the Instrumental and Vocal Music Concerts.  Some families are feeling worried about their 2013-2014 school plans for kindergarten or 6th grade.  Phew, it’s exhausting.

It’s interesting to see how things trickle down.  At school, some students are getting snappy with each other and not always saying the kindest things.  It’s important that we are the role models for them, and so when you are feeling the December stress, breathe and show your child how you handle it.  There may be misunderstandings and conflict, but as I tell the kids, it’s how we try to resolve it that is the important thing.  We want to create a safe, supportive, and joyful learning environment for our kids, and we all play a role in making that a reality.

Last year, a couple of my 5th grade students got into a scuffle during a basketball game.  They were sent to my office and by the time they got there, they had cooled down.  When I asked them what happened, one of the boys said, “Ms. Rhine, we’re over it.”  I told the boys they need to get along and make good decisions when they are upset.  Then one of the boys said, “Well, sometimes friends fight.”  Those were wise words from a 10-year old boy.  Friends do fight and we all have disagreements.  But how we handle the disagreements speaks volumes about who we are.

Speaking of who we are, Crocker has done an amazing job collecting toys for the “Toys for Tots” program, and coats for Children’s Hospital.  Now it’s time to make another Oakland family’s holiday a little brighter.  Our PTA is helping the Tolento family from Community United Elementary School in Oakland have a happy holiday. They are a wonderful family with five beautiful girls, ages 2 -11 years old and they need our support.  If you would like to donate to the family, they have asked for gift cards to Safeway, Target, Toys-R-Us, and anything else you think would help them have a nice holiday.  Feel free to drop off your donations to the PTA green box by the front office before December 17; mark your envelopes “Tolento Family.”  It’s a chance to help out and remember the true spirit of the holidays.

Speaking of holidays, check out the blurb below from one of our great Crocker families – they are helping spread the word on a great program to shop locally and earn money for our school! The program is called the Oakland Grown Card Program, and details are below.

Beth Rhine

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Crocker Long-range Planning Committee (CLPC)

Dear Crocker Families,
Last week I ran into a neighbor who is a previous parent of mine when I was teaching here at Crocker Highlands.  When I told her there were 419 students at Crocker, she was shocked.  When her children were here, there were between 350-360 students at Crocker.  I hear that at one time, there were over 500 students here.  There are certainly trends in Crocker’s enrollment, and now the situation has become even more challenging.

With the recently enlarged boundaries for some of the elementary schools in OUSD, and specifically Crocker Highlands, there has been a lot of discussion.  A group of parents formed the Crocker Long-range Planning Committee (CLPC).  They are gathering information to help the district do long-range planning regarding predicting enrollment in the future.  The vision of this committee is about providing information for the principal and the district to plan regarding enrollment trends. It’s not an easy task, but if we are able to better predict enrollment, it will help us in staffing plans and possible budgetary demands.
In saying all that, I am asking that everyone, that is someone from every household, answer a few short questions so that OUSD (Oakland Unified School District) can better perform capacity forecasting for Crocker Highlands Elementary School.
Please click on the URL to begin the survey: You can also cut and paste the link into your browser to begin the survey.
This survey is intended for ALL residents, regardless of age, household status, or schooling needs. The objective is to better understand the changing trends within our community as they relate to our local neighborhood school, such as the number of new and existing empty nesters, single persons, families with children, and other resident configurations in our neighborhood. This data will be kept private and only used for future planning purposes. If you know empty-nesters etc. in our community who may not be receiving this Newsletter, please forward them the link for the survey.
The more people who respond, the more accurate the information.  This is a pilot data collection effort and may be used to help forecast capacity for other schools within OUSD and promote sustainable growth.  I want anyone who wants to come to Crocker to be able to do so.  We have to make sure we have the room and spots for all of our children.
Beth Rhine

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Back to School Night

Dear Families,

I look forward to seeing everyone at our Back-to-School Nights on Tuesday, September 11 for our kindergarten families, and/or on Thursday, September 13, for grades 1st – 5th.  Because it is an adult-only event, childcare can be an issue.  Reach out to someone in the school community and either share and/or offer childcare if you already have a caregiver in place.   Back-to-School Night is the time for parents/guardians to find out what is happening in the classroom, and it’s important for everyone to be there.  You will hear about the classroom curriculum, projects, field trips, and the expectations for the year.  Teachers will share ways to best support your child at home.  It’s also a nice time to meet other families and to make those community connections.

All kindergarten families will meet in the Multi-Purpose Room on Tuesday evening at 6:30 p.m.  We will begin with all-school information and then all-kindergarten information.  Parents/guardians will then separate into classrooms for specific classroom/teacher information.

The schedule for Thursday’s presentations is as follows: 6:30 – 7:15 Primary Presentation (1st – 2nd) 7:15 – 7:45 Whole School Assembly – Squeeze in! (in the multi-purpose room) 7:45 – 8:30 Upper Grade Presentation (3rd – 5th)

Please respect the teachers’ time and agree to make this an informational, question and answer time about the content of the school year.  If you need to hold a conference about your child, please contact your child’s teacher via email, telephone message, or a note.

I hope to see everyone either on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m., or Thursday at 7:15 p.m.!

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A couple of updates: Planning 2012/13, PTA Guest Speaker, Open House

Dear Crocker Families,

It’s the time of year when we begin making plans for next year.  One part of these plans is our enrollment:  how many students are going to be here and how many classes will we need.  You can help by letting us know as soon as possible if you are not returning to Crocker Highlands in the 2012-2013 school year.   Some possible scenarios are a fourth kindergarten class and a third 3rd grade.  But it all depends upon our numbers, which drives the budget.  Keeping us informed of your plans helps us to make our plans!

At last week’s PTA/Equity Committee meeting, we had a wonderful speaker, Sherri Patterson, M.F.C.C.  She covered many topics related to social emotional learning and discussed how we can create a caring and bully-free community.  Some things that the adults in the community need to avoid doing are: taking sides, excluding their child’s classmates, labeling and gossiping about kids.  One response she recommended the children use when they witness bullying behavior is, “We don’t do that in our school.”  A parent recently asked me if the conflict/bullying has increased recently.  I don’t believe that to be the case, but I do feel we are more aware of it and focusing on it in order to build a truly caring community at Crocker Highlands.  Sherri Patterson also shared a recommended reading list – I’ll post copies on the bulletin board outside the office in case anyone is interested.

And speaking of community, this Thursday is Open House from 6:30 – 8:00.  Please come by and see all the great work that has gone on in your child’s classroom this year.  We have a minimum day on Thursday in order to give the teachers time to prepare for Open House.

Have a great week!

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State Testing

State testing begins this week for 2nd through 5th grades.  Teachers spent last week reviewing material and will begin testing this week.  Just a few reminders regarding how you can best support our students to do their best:

  1.  Attendance is critical.  Make-ups are hard to coordinate and most students do  better with the routine of taking tests in their regular classrooms with their classmates.
  2. Please have your child to school on time.  Some classes are taking a test right as school begins.
  3. Schedule appointments for the afternoons, after lunch time.
  4. If you are at school helping out, please be quiet in the hallways.  Do not enter classrooms if there is a sign on the door that says, “Testing.”
  5. Please be sure your child has a good night’s rest and a nutritious breakfast every day so he/she is ready to do his/her best on the test!
  6. Remind your child to take his/her time on each test and to do his/her best.
  7. And believe it or not, some students get anxious that if they don’t do well, they will flunk the grade.  Please reassure them that this is not the case!

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4th Kindergarten Classroom in 2012-13

As many of you know, there has been some conversation regarding our growing boundaries and the effects on Crocker Highlands. It was a difficult situation with families who live just down the street being redirected to another school for kindergarten next year. After many discussions with district leadership, we have decided to add a 4th kindergarten class for the 2012-2013 school year. This is a one-time growth spurt, which means that we will go back to three kindergarten classes in the 2013-2014 school year.

We have had 16 classrooms in the past, so we can certainly handle an additional classroom. It will require some possible schedules changes in terms of recesses and enrichment classes, but I am confident that we can make the necessary adjustments.

I wanted to let you all know about our “new addition.” I know there has been a lot of discussion and speculation about how it would be handled. I want to remind everyone that we are a community, a strong community. We want to make everyone feel welcome and an integral part of the Crocker family, regardless of where families live or when they were assigned to Crocker. Thank you for your help in making the vision of a welcoming, inclusive school real at Crocker Highlands.

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Welcome Back…9 Weeks Left

Dear Families,

Welcome back from Spring Break! I hope you all had a nice break and had some time to relax and enjoy some time off from school. There are many events coming up and it’s going to be a busy last nine weeks of school.

Second through fifth grades will begin state testing next week. All public schools in California will be taking the CSTs (California State Tests) during this time period. Classroom schedules vary due to the different number and length of tests at each grade level. Most grades will begin the week of April 23rd. There are from four to six tests to complete, and students usually do one test per day. Check with your child’s teacher if you have questions regarding testing schedules. If you are wondering what you can do to help your child prepare for testing, here are a few suggestions:

1) Make sure your child arrives to school on time.

2) Schedule doctor or dentist appointments for the afternoons. Most testing will be done in the morning before lunchtime.

3) Make sure your child gets a good night’s rest.

4) Make sure your child eats a nutritious breakfast every day.

5) Room parents will be coordinating healthy testing snacks for each classroom. Check in to see what you can contribute.

6) Help keep anxiety low for your child. (When I was teaching, every year my students would ask if they would flunk if they didn’t do well on the tests. Please reassure them that this is not the case.)

7) Help keep anxiety low for the teachers and the students.

8) Encourage your child to work hard and to do his/her best and to show off how smart he/she is!

We want our kids to do well because the reality is that schools are judged by the performance on the state tests. But tests are just a piece of the whole picture, and Crocker provides much more than good test scores.

Have a great week!

Beth Rhine

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