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:

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 ( 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  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 If you have any questions or feedback, please feel free to contact the PTSA at, or GoPortola* at

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

After School Spanish Conversation Class – FULL!

Learn the basics of Conversational Spanish in 3 simple steps: pronunciation, using key words, and daily use of language.  Tuesdays 3-4 pm, starting on August 27. Portola Campus – Classroom TBD.

The class is free – but please register.  For more information or to sign up, e-mail or call (510) 235-3546

For further details, please see the flyer here Spanish Conversation Class.

Garden Work Party

There will be a garden work party on Saturday, August 17th 2-5 pm to spiff up the campus before the students arrive for their first day of school.  No green thumb required!

Portola Middle School Registration!

1021 Navellier Street
El Cerrito, CA 94806

Tuesday, August 6, 2013
9:00 am – 7th Grade (Last Names A-H)
10:00 am – 7th Grade (Last Names I-Q)
11:00 am – 7th Grade (Last Names R-Z)

Wednesday, August 7, 2013
9:00 am – 8th Grade (Last Names A-H)
10:00 am – 8th Grade (Last Names I-Q)
11:00 am – 8th Grade ( Last Names R-Z)

Thursday August 8, 2013
9:00 am – Noon – Make Up Day – Both Grades

Parents and Guardians will fill out forms, get necessary materials, textbooks, and pick class schedules. Students are encouraged, but not required to come.

Your PTSA will be on hand (with coffee) to discuss volunteer opportunities. You can join the PTSA, make a contribution to the Direct Appeal and buy Spirit Wear! Come learn about after school chess and French classes. We will also host a backpack drive. Buy a backpack for someone that does not have one. Credit cards accepted!

School volunteers are required to obtain a volunteer badge from the school district. There are three parts to the volunteer requirement: Fingerprinting, a clean tuberculosis test, and the volunteer form. We will hold a fingerprinting session on Tuesday, August 6, 9:00 am – 12:30 p.m. if we have interest from the community. We need 10 (ten) people registered to hold this session. Fingerprinting costs $26 if you have been a California resident for 10 years and $41 for fewer years. You can either get the TB test from your doctor before or after the fingerprinting session. If you are interested in fingerprinting, please email to reserve a spot.

Bag or backpack for textbooks
$22 for Portola Physical Education Uniform (optional, but recommended. CASH ONLY FOR THIS TRANSACTION).

All students are issued a student ID and lanyard on the day of registration. Students are required to wear these at all times.

Registration will take approximately 1.5 hours. It will go faster if you fill out the packet that was mailed home before you show up. If you cannot come at the designated time, try to come at one of the other times. If you will be away, please contact the school office (510-524-0405 ) after August 12th between 8:30 am – 3:30 pm to make arrangements to register at school. Our goal is to have all students registered by the first day of school.

For further information, contact Portola PTSA,

See you there! Read More

Go Portola Presents…..

Wine and Cheese in a Fabulous Garden

A Portola Middle School Fundraiser

Please join us Saturday, June 1, 4:30-7:30 p.m.

Enjoy perfectly matched wines and cheeses in a fabulous garden setting. If you went to Portola, go to Portola, or are interested in learning more, please join us for this fun, community-building event.

Live salsa music by Little Spike…and maybe we’ll play a little Limbo!
Wine not your thing? Not to worry. We’ll be serving beers and British cheeses as well.

$20 per person. Pay at the door. Or click on the buy now button below.

Email to be put on the evite. It would be a tragedy if we did not have a wine glass for you!!

100% of all proceeds benefit the Portola PTSA.

Your Go Portola! Hosts, Bobbie Dowling, Leslie Reckler, Susan Riggle, Alonn Ilan