Preparing for Transitions

by Lucia Sullivan on 04/12/2016

I hope you all had a wonderful spring break week. There is something reflective about changing the routines for a few days, and I hope you were able to get some rest and relaxation along with “family time”.

As we return to school at this time of the year, it is easy to shift focus to next fall.

The end of the year can be hard for people. Many children really enjoy the consistent, predictable routines of school and find transitions to summer challenging. And for kids who are changing classrooms or moving on from Canyon School saying goodbye can be truly hard. One thing that I would encourage people to think about is the concept of “finishing strong” or making a positive goodbye. Many people feel conflicted about transitions and find themselves getting irritable, and when this happens it is easy to fall into a “good riddance” mentality. Sometimes we think of kids leaving high school and lament the senior slump.

It is an excellent life lesson to learn to say goodbye to a person or a place in a way that leaves the door open.

When we honor our feelings of sadness or feeling conflicted, we can say that we are excited to move on to new things but we will miss the old place. In this way, we leave a door open to come back and visit, to stay in touch, to keep mutually positive feelings.

When people have a hard time saying goodbye well, they tend to get angry, they experience disappointments and blow ups and say, “ I can’t wait to leave here, it will all be different next year.” We have all seen this happen– and it is a loss for all involved because it is hard to stay in touch, to return, to visit when we leave angry. And it casts a pall over all of our memories. It fundamentally shifts the entirety of the experience.

So if your family is preparing to leave, or even if your child is preparing to move onto a new classroom, remember to honor and experience your feelings. Change is always hard. Transitions are often sad. Growing up is fraught with feelings. It is our job as the caring adults to model this and to help the kids understand that they can have a wonderful experience and be both sad about it ending and excited about the future. They can love a teacher and be ready to leave her. The trick is to learn to do it with grace.

What are “Restorative Practices?”


During our March 11th Professional Development Day, Canyon staff attended a training on Restorative Practices in the schools.

The Restorative Practices model for schools (RP) is derived from the Restorative Justice movement. Canyon began introducing RP several years ago, and the March training served as a refresher of the skills/practices for some staff members, and an introduction to RP for newer staff members.

Restorative Practices are an alternative to top-down discipline practices and focus on repairing hurts rather than casting blame or punishing. RP in schools is not just about conflict resolution, it is also about proactively creating a school culture of connectivity where the personal dignity of all individuals is valued, as are the unique contributions of each school community member.

RP involves using a variety of strategies designed to build and strengthen relationships. It also involves proactively addressing hurts/harms through sharing and participatory decision-making.

If you are interested in learning more about Restorative Practices, here are several resources:

Here is the link to the Restorative Practices page by Oakland Unified School District with a variety of videos, links and resources:

Here is a link to a video focusing on one of the schools in Oakland:

Here is a link to a resource on the use of Restorative Circles in classrooms:

A Message from the Principal

by Lucia Sullivan on 03/01/2016

I wanted to remind everyone that this Thursday night, March 3rd, Canyon & CATSS is co-sponsoring a Parent Education Evening with a showing of the documentary “Screenagers: Growing Up in the Digital Age.” This important film explores screen time and social media and their impact on today’s youth. Following the showing there will likely be a community discussion.

We are co-sponsoring the showing with Black Pine Circle School, a small K-8 private school in Berkeley, who is hosting the evening. There is no charge for the event but their auditorium isn’t huge so space is limited and an
RSVP to is requested. Location is 2027 7th Street in Berkeley, near University Ave. Doors open at 6:30 and it will be open seating. We encourage you to bring your 5th grade and up kids, as this is
the age group most discussed in the film.

Here is an article that gives you a little more information about the film:

Please buy tickets for fundraiser now!

by Lucia Sullivan on 02/16/2016

Please buy your tickets for the fundraiser this Saturday night now! We need a good head count to estimate the amount of food and drinks to have– This is the only social, evening fundraiser this year! PLEASE come and support the community!

8th Grade Outward Bound Costa Rica Trip Fundraiser

Screenagers: A parent education night

by Lucia Sullivan on 02/11/2016

Are you worried about your child’s screen time? Do you wonder about what it means for kids today to grow up in the digital age? What do we need to know to best parent our kids in the face of all this technology?

Children are encouraged to join for this educational evening.

Join us Thursday, March 3rd @ 7 PM
We will be screening this film in partnership with Black Pine Circle, a private school in Berkeley.
Black Pine Circle is located at 2027 7th street in Berkeley

This parent education event is brought to you by CATSS in partnership with Black Pine Circle.