Author: beechwood

The Ambassador – June 1, 2016

This will be my last message for this year. There are so many things I could write about, as it has been an incredibly eventful year! It was a good year to be sure, but not one without sadness, especially with the departure of more than a few of our beloved staff members.

And so for this final Principal’s message, I would like to pay tribute to the man who has published this newsletter so capably for the last 13 years: the great Eric Getter.

Since Eric often works behind the scenes, many of you may not know what an important part of the Beechwood community he has been. From my perspective, he has been a dream to work with. He is extremely dedicated and has high standards for his work. If you ask him to do something, he will do it well. If he does not know how to do something, he will figure it out. The guy is amazing.

Outstanding Educator – May 4, 2016

Each year Beechwood admits 10 students into our Kinderprep class. In addition to their tremendous cuteness, they come to us with a ton of energy and many needs. These youngest members of our community (and their families) are indeed fortunate: their teacher for their first year will be Mrs. Veronica Elias.

On Thursday evening, Mrs. Elias will become the third Beechwood teacher to receive Acknowledge Alliance’s “Outstanding Educator” award at a special fundraising dinner. Mrs. Elias will receive her award in front of her colleagues, an audience of donors and most importantly, her loving family.

Black History Heroes, 3rd Edition – February 24, 2016

Black History Month has turned out to be a true team effort here at Beechwood. Our display in the lobby has contributions from Mrs. Connolly, Mr. Getter, Coach Hughes, Mr. Auzenne (Jala’s dad) and Ms. Jenkins (Aaliyah’s mom). Be sure to stop in and see the cool artifacts, interesting quotes and even some uniforms from the Negro Baseball League.

On Friday we will have our first ever, parent-organized Black History program. Please see the attached flyer and thank you to all the parents, teachers and kids who are working on this project.

Black History Heroes, 2nd Edition – February 17, 2016

We are continuing to celebrate Black History Month here at Beechwood. We hope you will be able to stop into the office to see the Black History display that we have started. There are quotes, artifacts, books, pictures and an amazing timeline. If you have anything to contribute, please let us know.

This week’s contribution to our series, “Black History Heroes,” comes from Cedra Wright. Her son Johno is in the 5th grade and her daughter Jamiese is in our 6th grade. We appreciate her willingness to participate in this project.

Black History Heroes – February 10, 2016

At a recent Beechwood event, I had the pleasure of having dinner with Jason and Michaun Auzenne whose daughter Jala is in our 6th grade class. During our conversation, Jala’s dad asked me what plans Beechwood had to celebrate Black History Month. His question served as a reminder to me that this is an important time, not just for the African American members of our school community but for the Beechwood community as a whole.

Therefore, throughout the remainder of the month, parents, teachers and students will share their “Black History Heroes.” We start this week with a contribution from Nicoshi Marzette, mother of Bryce in our 5th grade:

There are way too many heroes for me to name just one. So many that have made a difference for not only African Americans but all Americans!

We can go back to Harriet Tubman and her mission to free the slaves. Sojourner Truth and Langston Hughes, whose powerful words through poetry and speeches have made and continue to make huge strides throughout the communities.

Even if we look at more modern day, a lot of the microphones used today were developed/designed by James West. Those hot summer days that the kids enjoy running around with their super soakers, those were invented by Lonnie Johnson. For the cellphone crazed teens, Jesse Eugene Russell for his part in introducing the world to cellular technology (he got his Masters at Stanford).

There are tons of heroes and way makers both known and unknown that have made a difference. Personally, my heroes have been right in my community of East Palo Alto/Menlo Park. I will always remember Ms. Sandra Sterling who was my teacher in 3rd/4th grade at Willow Oaks. She was also my Sunday School teacher at Macedonia Church in Menlo Park. She is the reason that I was so into poetry and helped me to be comfortable with performing. She taught me the importance of being active in the community and giving back as well as standing up for what’s right! Especially in a world when women are often not taken as seriously as men.

“Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.” — Malcolm X

Thank you Nicoshi for sharing these thoughts with us. Next week we will share another Beechwood parentrsquo;s Black History heroes

-Mr. Laurance

Affordable Housing: A Call to Action – January 6, 2016

I hope that all of you had a wonderful Holiday. Mine was great! It started with Beechwood’s amazing, uplifting Holiday Show and continued on through Christmas and New Years. It was rejuvenating to take an extended break, to be with family and friends to celebrate all of life’s blessings.

Now, however, it is time to roll up our sleeves and get back to our important work. One of the most pressing issues affecting the Beechwood Community is that of affordable housing. One of my goals for 2016, is to do whatever I can to help bring awareness to this growing problem. I urge you to get involved as well.

Most of you are well aware of what is happening with regard to rising home prices and rents. As the prices go higher and higher it is becoming very hard for many Beechwood families to stay in the area. We have lost a number of families already because they can no longer afford to live here. The grim reality is that we can be sure that more families will leave, unless the issue is addressed and solutions are found.

In addition to the issues faced by our families, the lack of affordable housing is affecting our staff as well. Teachers who are renting are having their rents raised to a point where they have to consider leaving the area as well. Our outstanding staff is an essential part of what makes Beechwood great. The thought of losing talented teachers due to a lack of affordable housing is of great concern to me as well.

So what can we do?

For my part, I have started by drafting an open letter to local government leaders, making them aware of what is happening and asking them to engage in dialogue with our community members about affordable housing for teachers. This letter will be co-signed by a group of local Principals who are equally concerned about losing teachers.

I also will be attending the next Menlo Park City council meeting, which will be held at the Senior Center on January 12th at 6pm. If you are interested in raising awareness about housing prices and urging our leaders to address the issue, I hope you will attend as well. In the past, a show of strength from Beechwood families has made a difference with regard to local issues.

I started this message by mentioning “life’s blessings.” For me, one of the greatest blessings of my life has been working in this richly diverse community. Beechwood parents come from all walks of life. You are nannies, gardeners, high tech workers, nurses, office managers and teachers. Regardless of how you make your living, you deserve to have a place to live that is affordable and reasonably close to where you work and where your children go to school. Let’s do whatever we can to make our voices heard in an effort to preserve our diverse community.

-Mr. Laurance

A Culture of Care – November 4, 2015

If you come to Beechwood at lunch time, you will see a 4th grade student standing next to each recycling area in the eating area. Their job is to make sure that trash is properly placed in either the recycling, garbage or compost. These students are proud to be taking care of their environment and keeping Beechwood looking good. What they are doing is part of a larger movement that is taking place at Beechwood, a movement we are calling “A Culture of Care”.