A Message from State Schools Chief, Tom Torlakson

News Release

CONTACT: Robert Oakes
PHONE: 916-319-0818
November 10, 2016
E-MAIL: communications@cde.ca.gov

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Assures California Public School Students That They are Safe From Discrimination and Bullying

SACRAMENTO— State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today issued a statement reassuring California public school students from kindergarten through grade twelve that they are all safe from discrimination and bullying:
“I know that the outcome of the recent Presidential election has caused deep concern among many students and their families. The nation maintains a strong tradition for the peaceful transition of power. And I want to let all of California’s 6.2 million public school students know that keeping them safe from discrimination and bullying at our great state’s 11,000 public schools is a top priority.
“In California, diversity is strength. Our students come from all kinds of backgrounds, cultures, languages, and religions, and they all come together to learn on their way to success in 21st century careers and college. California already has, and will always maintain, strong legal and state Constitutional protections against any and all kinds of discrimination, regardless of a student’s race, ethnicity, faith, sexual orientation, or gender identity.
“And I want to tell young women and girls that they will always be safe, be respected, and be protected at school. As the proud father of two daughters, I know that girls can achieve anything, succeed at anything they choose, and earn the respect that they deserve every day at school, in the workplace, and in our communities. California moves forward, not back.”

Talking about the election results

by Lucia Sullivan on 11/09/2016
This article is from Common Sense Media. Thanks Sierra!

A Message from the Principal

by Lucia Sullivan on 11/08/2016

Hi Folks,

I hope you have all voted!

We had the opportunity to create a polling station at school today and conduct a mock election. Several students ran the polling station, checking in voters, fielding questions and counting the votes. The kids were very engaged and excited to participate (with the exception of Kindergarten which was mostly confused, but we wanted to include them). The results were overwhelmingly conclusive. Kids voted for Hillary Clinton, Jill Stein and Gloria Estela La Riva for President. Interestingly no votes were cast for president for men by any member of the Canyon community. It was less decisive for Senate and Representative… There are pictures on the Canyon Facebook page.

I have heard from CATSS that they would like to do a parent book group and start with Bully Nation by Susan Eva Porter. I ordered my copy this morning and look forward to the discussion (date TBD)! CATSS will be meeting Thursday night after the K12 Lantern Walk.

There is no school this Friday. Next week is minimum days all week. Aftercare is available to all members of the school community during this week on a drop in basis. Please make sure you schedule your conference time.

Would you be interested in serving on our STEAM committee this year? I know Therese Peffer and Nils Kauffman are interested. Who else would like to join? This year we need to review our technology plan. As teachers are working to implement more technology in their classrooms, it would be great to see what sort of expertise we have in our community that could support their efforts.

Please remember to reclaim your possessions. We have a lot of serve ware from snack and outerwear kids have left about. Your home items want to reconnect with you!

I enjoy hearing from you and your feedback is always helpful. So please email, call, schedule a meeting or grab me when you see me if there is anything you would like to discuss.


Upcoming Dates:
11/10 school pictures
11/10 K12 Lantern Walk
11/10 CATSS meeting
11/11 Veteran’s day no school
11/14-11/18 minimum days
11/15 Opera a la carte
11/21-11/25 Thanksgiving vacation
12/02 K12 Field Trip Buddhist Monastery
12/04 Art Faire
12/14 Daytime Dress Rehearsal Winter Performance
12/15 Evening Winter performance
12/16 minimum day
12/19-1/02 Winter Break

Welcome Back from the Principal

by Lucia Sullivan on 08/31/2016

Dear Canyon Families,

Welcome back! What a wonderful first day we had! I love back to school! It was such a thrill to see the students’ faces full of anticipation, excitement and wonder as they were reaquainted with teachers and friends. I was so proud to watch our returning students warmly greet the new students, introducing themselves and inviting them to play.

It is important to note that K12 will have their back to school night tomorrow (this Thursday) at 6 PM because Judy will need to be at a family funeral next week. Back to school night for 345 and 678 will be next Thursday, September 8th at 7 PM.

We have had a busy end of summer getting ready for all of you! The teachers and staff had a professional learning workshop to support the implementation of our new Social Emotional Learning Curriculum, The Caring School Community from the Center for the Collaborative Classroom. https://www.collaborativeclassroom.org/caring-school-community
They also had professional learning about the Standards for Mathematical Practices. http://www.corestandards.org/Math/Practice/ We are all eager to share our new learning with the students and continue to to enrich and improve their learning experience.

We have been working on the building too! David Lascurettes (Misty’s husband) has refinished the hardwood floors in the multipurpose room. He even stained a four square court on the floor to make the space more useful for indoor activity on rainy days. The floors look beautiful; make sure to wipe your feet! Brian Coyle, our school board member, resurfaced the bathrooms floors in an effort to improve both their appearance and their functionality. We are grateful to both of them! There are always other projects to do, but these were both important and we are so glad they were able to be completed before the start of school.

Another exciting change is that we will be moving recess to before lunch. There is quite a bit of research to suggest that kids are better served nutritionally, academically and socially by making this switch. https://peacefulplaygrounds.com/recess-before-lunch/ We recognize that there may be bumps in the road as we change some longstanding routines (like moving morning recess 15 minutes earlier), but we are confident that in the long run children will have a better, more positive and effective school day for making the switch.

Recently there has been a lot of research about the usefulness of homework in the elementary grades. Much of the research suggests that homework in the elementary grades does not contribute to academic achievement and may in fact extinguish the love of learning and enthusiasm for school that most young children naturally exhibit. As a result, Canyon school will be emphasizing reading as a valuable nightly activity, along with quality time with caring adults (playing a game, having a lively discussion or doing something active together) and some projects that are intended to be fun and exciting for children to work on at home. We will also continue to offer optional activities like IXL (and may occasionally ask children to complete work not finished in school that is important for their academic progress).

If you are interested in reading more about reducing/eliminating homework:

Should Schools Be Done With Homework?


I am excited for a wonderful year of learning with you and your children. I look forward to seeing you at back to school night either this Thursday (for K12) or next Thursday (345 and 678).


Summer Reading

by Lucia Sullivan on 06/14/2016

Dear Canyon Families,

I hope you are enjoying your first days of summer vacation. As an educator, a reader and a parent myself, I LOVE summer reading! I try to read one or two professional books that will guide my thinking in the coming school year, but I will confess that I also love beach reads. Liane Moriarty has a new book coming out soon and I can’t wait for it to magically appear on my kindle. I have already started Terry McMillan’s new book, I Almost Forgot About You, and am finding it immediately absorbing in the way that summer reading should be.

If you are wondering what your kids should be reading this summer, my personal belief is follow their interests and go for volume. They should have books to read that they are dying to get to. Books that will eat up a whole day are the best! I have “borrowed” some summer reading suggestions from Berkeley and former colleagues if you would like suggestions. My advice is to find a great children’s librarian in your neighborhood, sign up for their summer reading program (they often have great prizes!) and have your child tell the librarian the last book they read that they loved. The librarian will know where to go from there.

Some kids love informational text in short form. Consider a subscription to National Geographic for kids, Cobblestone, Cricket, Ranger Rick, Popular mechanics… your librarian will have more ideas and copies available to borrow.

A lot of guides suggest having kids read one or two books in the summer– I am suggesting a novel a week as a baseline for my boys, but we aren’t doing much camp and they will have the time. There is a lot to be said for volume… You know your family best!

Common Sense Media has a fabulous searchable database by age

Also, from Common Sense Media (Thank you Sierra and your colleagues!)– a punch list of 50 titles your kid should read before age 12– I particularly loved reviewing the early readers and remembering reading them together…


This is the Berkeley Public Schools Website with Summer Reading by grade level

American Library Association 6-8 reading list– GREAT recommendations for middle school aged kids


a librarian blog to inspire you!

Contra Costa Summer Reading Program

Oakland Library Summer Reading Program

Alameda County Library programs

Barnes & Nobles Summer Reading Program

Scholastic Summer Reading Program

Happy Reading!