Volunteer Fingerprinting and TB Testing Event

All WCCUSD volunteers should be fingerprinted and TB tested.  If you drive on school-sponsored field trips or attend school-sponsored overnights. You do need to have these District required credentials.
Kensington Hilltop Elementary School is hosting both fingerprinting and TB testing sessions, and has opened up their event to Portola families:
TB Testing
Monday, September 9, 2013, 8 a.m. – 9 a.m.
 Please bring $20 in cash on the day of the test (Monday, Sept 9)
TB Test Reading and Fingerprinting Session
Thursday September 12, 2013 6 p.m.-7 p.m.
The fingerprinting process costs $26 if you have been a resident of California for the last 10 years, $41 if not, and covers all district processing for the badge and the Department of Justice fingerprint review.  Cash is preferred, although credit cards and checks are accepted (Thursday, Sept 12).
Appointments must be made.  We’re sorry, but no walk-ins accepted.  Contact:
Sarah Wolfsen at sarbarnes@yahoo.com to reserve a spot.
Kensington Hilltop School
90 Highland Blvd
Kensington, CA 94708
Please park in the Kensington Library parking lot (61 Arlington Blvd.   at the flashing light) and walk up to campus.  There is no parking on campus and very limited parking near campus.  Thanks!

WCCUSD Strategic Plan Town Hall Meetings

Now is the time to provide your feedback on the draft 2013-2018 District Strategic Plan.  Please join us at one of the two Strategic Plan Town Halls to learn about the proposed plan, participate in small group working sessions, and help us prioritize the work for the next five years.  The first is Wednesday, August 28th in the multipurpose room at El Cerrito High School and the second is on Monday, September 9th in the multi-purpose room at Collins Elementary School.  Both meetings are from 6:30 to 8:00 pm.  The draft plan is available on the district’s web site (http://www.wccusd.net/Page/3557).   If you can’t attend or would prefer to review the plan and submit written feedback, you can do that by sending your thoughts and comments in an e-mail to strategicplan@wccusd.net.  Comments from messages to that address will go to the consultants and be considered by the Steering Committee as the plan is modified before going back to the Board of Education for approval in October.

First PTSA Meeting of the 2013-14 School Year

Tuesday, September 10th 7:00 p.m. Portola Middle School, 1021 Navellier Street, Room 7.  Come meet the PTSA.  After introductions, we will discuss this year’s goals, and present and approve the year’s budget.  The full agenda can be found at Portola PTSA Sept. 10, 2013 meeting agenda.

After PTSA business, we are so proud to present programming provided by Portola’s PARC Committee (Parent Academic Rigor Committee).  Please welcome our new WCCUSD Scholar-in-Residence, Dr. AnnMarie Baines.  She is working with us this year on Universal Design for Learning (UDL) training. UDL provides educators with a blueprint for creating instructional goals, methods, materials, and assessments that work for everyone–not a single, one-size-fits-all solution but rather flexible approaches that can be customized and adjusted for individual needs.  Dr. Baines is a professor at San Francisco State University and is at the forefront of the UDL movement in the Bay Area. She’ll explain UDL,  what she plans to accomplish this year,  and how parents can help.  Finally, she’ll take questions from the audience.  Although you are more than welcome to ask questions at the event, we can help Dr. Baines to prepare by asking in advance.  Email your questions to: portolaptsa@gmail.com.

Update: You can view Dr. AnnMarie Baines’ presentation slides here for an overview of how the Scholar In Residence Program (SIR) and Universal Design for Learning (UDL) are being leveraged in our schools.

After School Chess

Berkeley_Chess_School_logoWe are proud to offer after school chess with the Berkeley Chess Club.  Classes start Wednesday, September 11-November 20th, 1:45-2:30 p.m.  $144 for 12 weeks. Chess is fun and can be learned quickly.  Studies have found that chess helps improve results in reading, science and math and produces growth in critical cognitive skills.  And, it is FUN!  The minimum class size is 10; maximum is 20.

Financial aid is available, usually ½ off.  Families are asked to volunteer for 3 hours in exchange, once per session.

Parents can get involved, too.  If a parent is willing to volunteer to always be there at the beginning of class to help take roll, they can have free tuition for one child.

The instructors are insured and fingerprinted.  Class will be at Portola.  Room TBD.  Sign up at https://berkeleychessschool.org/signups/signup/644.

Back-to-school Family Picnic

Everyone is invited!  Thursday, August 29th, 5:30- 7:30, Cerrito Vista Park, Picnic Area, which is located on the upper level of the park.  This park is (almost) directly across the street from Portola on Moeser.  We recommend you enter at the Avis Dr. entrance across from Prospect Sierra School.

$5.00 per person for pizza, salad, drinks and dessert. Come meet new friends and reconnect with old.

Can you donate a folding table?  Can you help set up? Email us at:  Portolaptsa@gmail.com

Year of Innovation – A Message from Principal Burnham

As the Principal at Portola Middle School, each new school year brings equal doses of pride, excitement, hope and determination. The one word that is at the forefront of my mind this year is innovation. Due to the hard work of our students, families and community we have successfully laid a foundation that can support innovation in ways we have not been able to do in the past. We have made steady, positive change over the years and these new programs have the potential to accelerate our growth and provide opportunities to better meet the needs of all our students. For those of you who don’t already know, we broke ground on the new Portola building this summer and anticipate the new facility will be ready during the 2015/2016 school year. As we “break-ground” on innovative forms of pedagogy this year, I am looking to an even brighter future when we take what we’ve learned into our new facility and continue to build on the groundswell that is well underway.

Here are some highlights of the innovative programs happening at Portola:

We had our first Universal Design for Learning (UDL) training this August with the WCCUSD Scholar-in-Residence, Dr. AnnMarie Baines. UDL provides educators with a blueprint for creating instructional goals, methods, materials, and assessments that work for everyone–not a single, one-size-fits-all solution but rather flexible approaches that can be customized and adjusted for individual needs (http://www.udlcenter.org). Dr. Baines is a professor at San Francisco State University and is at the forefront of the UDL movement in the Bay Area. Portola teaching faculty, along with a graduate tutor, counselor, two administrators and two board members attended the first of several daylong sessions. There is excitement in the air with this new approach at Portola. Our aim is to make school interesting and challenging for all of our students by accommodating each student’s needs for  multiple means of representation, expression, and engagement.

In addition to leading the initial UDL trainings, as the Scholar-in-Residence at Portola, Dr. Baines will also be supporting us in ongoing professional development activities. She will be observing classes as they implement UDL and coaching teachers on a regular basis. Throughout the year, she will be available for individual consultations, and develop and lead trainings to support faculty and staff in providing the best learning environment for all of our students.

We are now entering our third year of Dual Immersion Spanish language instruction at Portola. This is the continuation of a program started at Washington Elementary in Richmond where students are given instruction in both English and Spanish starting in kindergarten. At Portola, these students take Advanced Spanish as well as a History class taught in Spanish. We just sent our first graduating class to El Cerrito High school to continue their learning. If students pass the AP Spanish test they will receive the highly regarded California State Seal of Biliteracy on their diploma. The goal of the DI program is to create biliterate, global citizens who will be able to navigate and participate in our ever-growing global economy. If there are students who did not participate in the DI program at Washington Elementary but speak, read and write Spanish at a 7th grade skill level we allow them to test into the DI program.

The gains we have made at Portola are due to many factors, one of which is community involvement.  If you would like to donate or become involved in the PTSA at Portola, please visit http://portolanews.com/open-ptsa-jobs/.  If you would like to participate in another innovative program at Portola that connects community members with students, please consider becoming a Writer Coach.  More information about that program can be found at http://writercoachconnection.org/. If you have any questions or feedback, please feel free to contact the PTSA at PortolaPTSA@gmail.com, or GoPortola* at GoPortola@gmail.com.

Update: You can view Dr. AnnMarie Baines’ presentation slides here for an overview of how the Scholar In Residence Program (SIR) and Universal Design for Learning (UDL) are being leveraged in our schools.
*GoPortola is a parent group providing advocacy for programs and resources for Portola, as well as a source of information about Portola Middle School’s parent community, facilities, performance, and features.

Dr. AnnMarie Baines
Dr. AnnMarie Baines
California State Seal of Biliteracy
California State Seal of Biliteracy