Mr. David Watts
(714) 986-7080, Extension 24003
Through the A.P. Window
There are many people who contribute to making YLMS a great place to be. I’d like you to get to know Xavier Vasquez. Xavier is our Campus Supervisor. In this role, he works to keep our students and faculty safe and secure. He joined us in May of last year. He began this role at what’s possibly the toughest time of year for a middle school campus. He rolled up his sleeves and got right to work.
Relationships are the key to a positive school environment. Xavier gets to know kids and spends time daily strengthening relationships with our students. They often see him as a friendly face they can talk to and get help from, without any judgement. He helps find lost backpacks, makes sure kids aren’t hungry, and encourages students to get to class on time. For many kids, he’s the adult on campus they trust the most. He maintains trust and confidentiality while helping kids learn to solve problems and navigate the sometimes tricky path through middle school.
One thing that has stuck with me is his answer to a question. When asked how he sees this job, he replied “I want to keep kids safe and treat them like I want my own kids to be safe and well treated”. He does indeed treat all of us like we’re the most important person he knows.
Xavier has 3 young children under the age of 5. His youngest was born a month ago. So in spite of limited sleep, he shows up daily with a positive attitude and works tirelessly to help kids be safe and supported. It’s a joy to watch kids talk to him and trust him to help them. We’re fortunate to have him as a member or our Bobcat family!
We are in the middle of awards season. Stars walk the red carpet and receive accolades for the work they’ve done. Awards go to movie stars, musicians, television stars, writers, etc. These people work hard, have honed their craft, and are recognized by peers and the public for their skills. While this is fun to watch and millions are drawn to the shows to watch the awards, I often wonder why we don’t celebrate teachers in this way. They, too, have worked hard and honed their craft. They engage students in live performances daily, without hundreds of ‘behind the scenes’ workers. They shift from teacher to counselor to safety supervisor all through the day. When the classroom lights go out, they bundle up work and take it home, where they have other roles to fulfill. Before laying their heads down for the night, they grade papers and create new lessons (much like screen writers). Then, they get up and do it all again the next day.
One major difference I’ve noticed is that teachers are reluctant to accept accolades for the work they do. Their reward is seeing students become successful and follow their passions. Their reward is helping students become good citizens. Their reward is the relationships they create with students and families. Their reward is the look of joy on someone’s face when they overcome their challenges and finally understand a difficult concept.
Teachers generally aren’t competitive. They don’t look to be the only person who is good at teaching, but partner with colleagues to see that all of them are successful. They encourage, help, share, and lift up their peers. There’s no greater reward than seeing a whole school be successful. Sometimes a teacher is recognized for his/her talent, and inevitably they thank peers and other teachers who have helped and inspired them. Most are reluctant to be recognized because they feel they are only one of many who are doing a fantastic job daily teaching students.
So, while we won’t see a televised awards show for teachers, you can thank them. Your student can verbally acknowledge their efforts. You and your student can write a brief note describing something a teacher has done that you appreciate. You can email a quick thought of encouragement. Let’s make teachers feel like they’ve walked the red carpet and are appreciated for all they do for all of us.
There are over 950 students at YLMS. That’s a lot of energy and enthusiasm! As you could guess, there are many different backgrounds, attitudes, and beliefs. This mix is one of the most exciting things about spending time here. Unfortunately, sometimes people don’t get along with others and differences get in the way of harmony.
However, we have spent a great deal of time and energy the last 4 weeks promoting respect and compassion on the campus. “Dude, be nice” was the rally cry for our unity week activities and assembly, and continues to echo with various activities during break, lunch, and within classes. From my perspective, students seem to be responding in a big way to the idea of kindness. As I reflect, it seems that teaching and modeling are the catalyst to a more harmonious campus.
Please talk to your children about what they see on campus and how they can continue to increase the kindness. Reinforce that actions, as well as words, should show the kind of compassion and care that we all would like to receive. By keeping the idea of kindness in the spotlight, we’re all more aware and it becomes second nature. The holiday season is a wonderful time to practice kindness to others, both at school and in our community.
Thanksgiving is behind us, and now we look forward to December holidays! There are 2 great concerts you should mark on your calendar and plan to attend with your whole family. The first is our Vocal Choir Concert on Monday, Dec. 5. Our vocal groups have been working on songs since September under the direction of Ms. Gilfoy. The concert starts at 7:00 at the Performing Arts Center, located on the campus of El Dorado High School. Come early for a good seat, as it will be a sold out performance.
The second opportunity is our Instrumental Music Concert on Wednesday, Dec. 7, directed by Mr. Methe. This show starts at 7:00 in the Lasorda Field House. Our band and orchestra groups have also been practicing since school started.
We are fortunate to have such excellent music opportunities for students. Our district has always supported music in schools, and you’ll see why when you bring friends and family to enjoy both concerts. Numerous studies have shown the positive impact of music on student success. Here’s only one such article http://www.aep-arts.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/Music-Matters-Final.pdf.
So, mark your calendar for Monday and Wednesday nights. Bring family and friends, and experience the positive joy our musical students provide.
Today the 2nd quarter of school begins! Already 25% is done. This is a great time to review goals with your student and discuss their progress. We had students write goals in their agendas, so you can ask if they are meeting those, or do they need to be revised. Grades will be mailed home at the end of this week. While grades are only one marker of progress, they are important. Discuss whether your student is satisfied with them. Questions to ask: “Are the grades representative of their best work?" “Could they be improved?”
Please remember to discuss citizenship grades as well. Students should have high marks. Encourage your child to participate in class as appropriate, complete work on time, follow class and school behavior expectations. There’s no reason for unacceptable marks in this category. If your child is concerned about a low mark, have them speak with the teacher, or see Mr. Watts or Ms. Weirich and we can discuss it with them.
Parent support is a major factor of academic success. Our students are blessed to have instructors who care, and parents who are involved and supportive. Together, we’re better!
Parenting can be difficult, no matter how awesome your child is. There are times of struggle and conflict, as well as joy and laughter. Sometimes, you just need a new perspective or fresh idea to help you on this journey. We’ve subscribed to a newsletter titled “Middle Years”, which offers monthly news and ideas, centered on various topics. You’ll find these on our website. Click on “YLMS Info”, then “Parent Pointers”. We hope you’ll find timely advice and ideas you can use. They are a great source of topics for dinner conversation. If you find them helpful, please let us know with a quick email.
I’d like to welcome everyone back to school for the 2016-2017 year! It’s been great to see familiar faces, as well as new ones, on campus. Tonight is our annual Back to School Night. Parents, please make plans to attend. You will follow your child’s schedule and meet all the teachers. They will be explaining classroom procedures and sharing the yearly plan for their subject. It’s important for you to be here so you are fully informed and can support your child. It also shows that you value school and the importance of learning. You’ll have 3 minutes to move from class to class, which is the same amount students get. See if you can make it without being tardy!