Dear Parents and Teachers of La Jolla Elementary
For anyone who has been to campus recently, you can easily see that our beloved school is undergoing many structural changes and upgrades to the campus, buildings, and playgrounds! As this school year progresses, you will also see a lot of improvements being made within our school in our approach to providing teacher support, improving behavior, and expanding enrichment programs.
Therefore, as Co-Presidents of Friends of La Jolla Elementary (“Friends”), we are very proud La Jolla Elementary is moving in a positive direction, always evolving, and improving. Friends is at the front of these improvements, helping our school reach its ambitious goals by providing financial support.
Arguably the largest contribution Friends has made to La Jolla Elementary for the 2023-2024 school year is an investment in our amazing teachers. This year Friends funded three additional classroom teachers, one full-time enrichment teacher, and four support teachers. We consulted with Principal Dr. Hasselbrink and PTO President Carolina Tiller and made a financial commitment to hire these additional teachers. This thoughtful decision was based on our collaborative analysis of classroom sizes across grades and feedback from our teachers. In particular, this year Friends created a new Board position titled “Teacher Liaison” whose focus is to make sure Friends stays connected with teachers and receives teacher feedback regarding funding. Our first Teacher Liaison Andrea Russell has already made a huge impact on making sure our funding is focused on one priority: supporting our teachers.
We all agree that funding additional teachers has so many positive effects on the school. The most obvious positive effect is to reduce classroom sizes. Without funding from Friends, our classrooms were projected to have between 28 and 30 students in many grades. With funding from Friends, average class sizes are now between 23 and 24 students across lower and upper grades. In particular, normally the upper grades are expected to have larger class sizes due to student maturity, but this year, in an effort to help our teachers address classroom behavior and focus on preparing our students for academic success for middle school, the smaller class sizes in fourth and fifth grade reflect a commitment that all grades will benefit from Friends funding additional teachers.
If we were to label this school year, we would call it the “Year of the Teachers”. Smaller class sizes show our teachers that we support them, that we are willing to provide funding to enable our teachers to be more successful with fewer students per class, allowing for more one-on-one attention, more student participation in group projects, and more flexibility to teach “outside the box”. Funding additional teachers this year also allowed for our school to avoid combination classes so that none of our teachers will have to teach students from two grade levels in their classroom.
We are also extremely proud to share that Friends also supports our teachers in other creative ways, such as funding more elaborate field trips, funding a performing arts program, providing paid collaboration time across grades, providing teacher accounts to buy materials, funding grade level workshops such as coding and yoga, and funding art enrichment which allows teachers more time for lesson planning, grading, and organizing large projects. If you would like to learn more about what Friends is working on next to show our teachers that we care and that we support them, please just ask any member of the Board, and please stop by one of our Friends meetings which occur once a month in the school library.
Please know that we are very grateful for your donations - they are essential to Friends being able to fulfill its ambitious goals this year. Our Annual Giving Campaign starts every August, and we ask that every family contribute $850 per student to the Annual Giving Campaign. If you are able, please join our parent community that supports the school financially and check out our website: https://donate.onecause.com/ljes2023
We thank you for being an amazing parent community, and we look forward to seeing you at Friends events this year!
With many thanks,
Elizabeth Van Clief & Sonal Patel
Co-Presidents of Friends of LJES, Inc.
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