I am so pleased to welcome you back to school for what promises to be another exciting year of learning for both students and teachers. I have already visited a couple of classrooms, and once again I am struck by how things have changed since I was a child.
Learning is so much more engaging now — we have hands-on activities and physical movement built into the lessons, as we now know how important these teaching strategies are to student learning and retention. Today, our lessons employ all the senses, and as a result, students are much more readily drawn into the subject matter. And of course, new technologies allow us to connect with each other and the world in ways we could never have imagined!
But some things never change. The beginning of the school year still elicits the question: “What did you do over the summer?” Student answers never fail to surprise us. One thing we know to be true: nearly 900 of our students spent a month of their summer vacation with us, right here in the District.
Preschool through eighth-grade students participated in a variety of programs, all designed to help them prepare to do their best learning in the upcoming school year. Partnering with organizations such as the YMCA, Stanford University, the Family Engagement Institute, and the Columbia Neighborhood Center, among others, helped us to deliver a rich array of summer programs to our youth.
Some middle-school students learned about the Chinese culture, studying Mandarin and practicing Tai Chi, and then capping off their session with a trip to San Francisco’s Chinatown, where they used their new language skills to speak with retailers and order their own lunches. Stretch to Kindergarten students got their first in-school experiences with us, participating in pre-reading and other early academics activities to prepare them to succeed on the very first day of kindergarten.
These are just two examples of the rich and varied programs we offered through Summer Explorations, which is open to all district students. Please take a few moments to learn more by viewing our Summer Matters video below. You will hear from a few of our teachers just how these educational and recreational programs help students stay on the learning trajectory through the summer months, an investment that helps them meet immediate academic goals while bolstering their ability to thrive for years to come.
Regardless of how your children spent their summer days, we are delighted to have them with us now as we launch a new year of learning. We have planned exciting and inspiring lessons for every class in the district —activities that we hope will go beyond promoting academic and social-emotional growth to ignite the kind of love for learning that will set our students solidly on the path to the bright future they all deserve.
I look forward to sharing progress in the months ahead. In the meantime, please know how grateful we are for the opportunity to serve you and your children.
Benjamin H. Picard, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools
Sunnyvale School District