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My 10th Anniversary Story

As I shared last week at Back to School Night, our theme for this school year is Our Stories Matter.  This theme was inspired by an author and speaker, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, who explains that stories help us to humanize and empower those around us when we take time to learn them.

So, I will take the liberty of sharing a bit of my story as it relates to our school.  It was ten years ago this August that I made the move across town to become the principal at Bel Aire Park.  At the time, there were two schools on one campus and because of very restrictive policies that were in place in California at that time, there was a huge disparity in what the schools were allowed to provide for students.  Our staff, parents, and students came together as one new magnet school and began implementing the Primary Years Program of the International Baccalaureate Organization.  At the time, this was a huge change for everyone and it took a lot of courage and a lot of work by all our stakeholders to …
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Telling our Community Story

This year at Bel Aire Park our theme has been finding our voice and telling our story.  In thinking about our annual World's Fair last week, it occurred to me that this event is an important way that we share our story as a school community.  We've held this event for several years now as a way to come together with kids and families for a fun, relaxed time where we can enjoy being together.  While also trying to celebrate a little bit of culture from around the world in keeping with our International Baccalaureate program.   It requires a lot of work to put this event together and this year especially I was reflecting about all the people that have their hand in making it successful.  We have members of our staff, leaders from our Family Faculty Club, volunteers from our ELAC group, community support from organizations like 4-H and community partners like Cooke Orthodontics and Umpqua Bank all contributing ideas, time, or resources to help us have an enjoyable time together. …

Something Old, Something New

One of the things we're discovering as we attempt to define what it means to be a Communications and Media school along with our IB theme, is that communication is everywhere and takes us in interesting directions.  Sometimes those directions take us to the past and sometimes to the future.  This idea struck me this month as I saw our kids take part in and watch a performance of The Comedy of Errors by San Francisco Shakespeare festival and I watched students using our newly complete media room to begin their research for our Level Up Village project. 


I personally love all things Shakespeare and have a great appreciation for the universal themes we find in his plays, but it's always remarkable to me that despite the Elizabethan language, the multiple characters and costume changes, and the intricate plot, our students watch in fascination and laugh uproariously at all the slapstick comedy. 


After the play students asked thoughtful questions about what it takes to prepare for …

A Creative Start to 2019!

After 3 weeks away for the holidays, we were able to start 2019 with a great event.   Our 4th and 5th grade students were invited to spend the day at New Tech High School for a joint project sponsored by Adobe software.  The high school students worked with our kids to design an art piece to be used at the upcoming display for the Napa Lantern Parade (Friday, Jan. 18).  Our students were able to document the process using their brand new 1:1 iPads (courtesy of our magnet grant).   Our hosts at New Tech planned a busy day of collaboration and creativity.  It's always amazing to see what kids can come up with when we get out of their way and let them use their skills and talents to create.  The high school students were patient and encouraging with their elementary buddies and allowed them to use their ideas to add to the project.










Our students took pictures and video to tell their "story" of the day using Adobe spark software.  This was a great opportunity for our kids to …

Season of Giving

I'm always grateful when the holiday season approaches each year.  It helps me put things in perspective.  Although all of us have challenges and stresses in our lives, it is good to think about things we are grateful for.  As a staff at Bel Aire this past month, we have been trying to practice starting the day with something we appreciate.  It can be something as simple as the sunshine or water.  Then, each time we notice the thing we appreciate, it gives us an opportunity to pause and experience for a moment the feeling of gratitude and appreciation. 

I have been reflecting on and appreciating all those helpers that come forward when there's a crisis or tragedy.  We see it often in our own community and have seen it with the recent wildfires again in California.   We also had helpers in our own school community, inspired by their IB unit about how taking action is part of what it means to be human.  All the 3rd and 4th grade classes, chose and researched an area of need and …

IB turns 50!

As I was returning this week from a visit to an IB school in another state, I was reflecting on my experiences with the International Baccalaureate Organization that I was introduced to more than 13 years ago.  In my early days as a school administrator, my colleagues and I were looking for something that would give our students something more, something longer lasting, than a traditional education.

Of course, we wanted our students to read, write, and calculate well, but we also wanted to instill in them a love of learning and help them find purpose in their school life.  We had all experienced what it was like to be in a classroom where we didn't feel that what we were doing had any relevance to our future lives.   I was one of those students that worked hard to memorize my spelling words or my times tables or a set of facts, so that I could get 100% on the test, but those things did not make school interesting or compelling for me. Nor were they particularly useful beyond the c…
One of the best kept secrets at Bel Aire is our working clay studio under the direction of our very own Pam Imbach.  Pam taught at Bel Aire many years ago and after a very interesting journey into several career paths she came back to Bel Aire as our IB Coordinator to help us bring IB to our school.  She retired a few years ago but now she is back teaching our kids to develop their artistic talents and communicate through the use of clay.  Pam, herself a potter and artist, wanted to give our kids the experience of working with clay as a medium for expression.  She combines her knowledge of the elements of our IB program with her skills in pottery.  So when kids visit her studio in Room 32, they get a real hands-on experience with concepts like change, perspective, and causation that connect their learning to the unit they are working on in their classroom.  Parents are welcome to come and visit the studio and see what the kids are creating.

We are truly grateful to Pam for all the tim…