Dear La Jolla Elementary Families,
Welcome to the 2023-2024 school year! Although we're off to a bit of a strange start with Hurricane/Tropical Storm Hilary and a postponement of our first day of school, I can tell it's going to be a good year. As I've expressed to my staff and Area Superintendent, we've had a really smooth (but busy!) opening of school, and I feel like all of the stars in the universe are aligning for us at LJES.
Our construction team was been busy at work over the summer! They've beautified our campus by adding trees, plants, turf, and mulch. It's looking so much better! They also completed the new staff parking lot with a drop-off/pick up zone, updated our red play structure and re-striped the playground, completed our lunch arbor with new lunch tables, provided us with new tables in collaborative outdoor spaces around the campus, installed the first of our new garden boxes, finished constructing several covered walkways, and more! The construction team will continue to work on our auditorium and the classroom wing next to the lunch arbor, which should be completed around Thanksgiving. Around the same time, they'll also complete our "blue" playground on the upper east campus, as well as access stairs and an ADA compliant ramp. They'll be working on the UTK/K area for the duration of the school year; it will be ready for the 2024-2025 school year. It's really amazing to see all of the progress!
I am thrilled to introduce several new members of our LJES team this year. We have a wonderful new classroom teacher in fifth grade: Lindsey Novak, who comes to us with eight years of experience and great energy. We also have a new Resident Visiting Teacher, who will fill in when staff members are out, support with supervision, and help out in any way she can: Shannon Butler. We have a new, one day a week Education Specialist: Michelle Klemensberg; she'll be with us on Mondays. In addition, we have a new, two day a week Speech and Language Pathologist: Monique Hall; she'll be with us on Tuesdays and Thursdays. One of our Education Specialists is on leave for the school year, and we have Kerry Novak filling in to provide services; he was the Resident Visiting Teacher at TPES for the past two years, so he is familiar with our La Jolla community.
At LJES, we've always worked hard to foster our students' love of learning and meet/exceed grade level standards. In addition, this year our LJES team is committed to supporting our students' social/emotional learning. Teachers at every grade level will engage their students in weekly Second Step lessons, which are aimed at helping students to build social/emotional skills (e.g., nurturing positive relationships, managing emotions, and setting goals) so they can thrive in school and in life. We are grateful to have a full time School Counselor this year. Katie Paul is back at LJES; she'll teach regularly scheduled counseling lessons in every classroom, conduct small groups based on student needs, problem-solve student challenges, and support students with occasional individual check-ins.
This school year, our team is also committed to supporting students' positive behaviors. Last spring we collaboratively began working on "LJES Commitments and Respectful Practices," which we continued refining upon returning in August. We have developed school-wide expectations for respecting ourselves, each other, and the environment in different contexts: movement on campus, the playground, lunch arbor, classroom, restroom, and specials (e.g., enrichment, PE). We will lay the foundation by teaching students our agreed-upon respectful practices, and we will reinforce our students' positive behavior by offering them frequent praise and other positive reinforcement. We're all excited to be a cohesive team this year, with our entire community on the same page.
Our LJES team has also developed a system to improve the communication between our staff has with parents. If a child visits the Counselor, Psychologist, Principal, etc., they will provide a little note to let you know, which will be signed by a parent and returned the next day. Members of our faculty and Visiting Teachers will also provide parents with notes about any incidents that may have occurred throughout the day. Our goal is to keep parents informed of the little incidents that pop up, so we can work together to prevent larger challenges.
I can't wait to see everyone tomorrow!
Stephanie Hasselbrink, Ed.D.
La Jolla Elementary School