Letter from the Principal (2018-2019)
Wednesday, August 8, 2018
Dear Visitacion Valley Middle School Families,
Welcome to another school year! I am honored to begin my fourth year as Principal of VVMS, and I am inspired to bring our students a quality education. My daughter just turned one, and is starting to walk and keeping us busy. This experience gives me a renewed commitment to create an amazing school for your children. We have bigger goals for this year and we need your help!
Our goals for this year are:
Connect our students who do not speak the same language to build strong friendships.
Continue to increase our reading levels by 25%, through accelerated literacy classes.
Develop the skills students need for college and work, using our new Project Based Learning curriculum.
What you can expect from the Visitacion Valley staff:
Engaging lessons and opportunities for students to talk, think, and explore ideas together.
Regular communication about student progress (reach out to your child’s teacher or counselor anytime if you have any concerns).
A safe and supportive school environment where all students can learn.
What we expect from parents and family members:
Make sure students sleep well, eat well, and get to talk about their day at school.
Help students arrive to school on time ready to learn. Classes begin at 8:15 every day.
Reach out often (monitor grades, contact teachers and counselors, and ask questions). We have Chinese, Spanish, Vietnamese, Samoan, and Portuguese bilingual staff.
Read our weekly Family Newsletter, which comes home with your student on Thursdays.
We hope you can get involved in our School Site Council (SSC) and English Learner Advisory Committee (ELAC), and our soon to be formed Parent Teacher Association (PTA). We also run monthly parent clubs for Asian and Latino families, and are hoping to expand to Pacific Islander and African American clubs as well.
There is some important information enclosed in this letter about the first day of school. Please read it with your student(s). If you should have any questions, comments or suggestions, please do not hesitate to call us at school, (415) 469-4590. We are looking forward to a productive, safe, academically challenging, creative and fun school year. We hope you are as well and look forward to your partnership in your child’s education. See you soon and enjoy the rest of your summer.
Joe Truss, Principal Kevin Odle, Assistant Principal Jenny Ujiie, Assistant Principa
New Curriculum and Classes
Last year, our 6th grade team piloted a Project-Based Learning (PBL) approach and curriculum with all students, aligned to Common Core Standards and SFUSD’s Vision 2025 Plan. Our goal is to teach students to be strong written and oral communicators, collaborators across difference, and to develop agency over their own learning. This year, we are moving to full-school implementation of PBL, and 7th and 8th graders should see increased focus on these learning outcomes and a shift in the learning culture in their classrooms.
We will continue to address our goal of raising reading and writing levels for all students by again offering an additional seventh class (most schools still offer six) focused on either literacy or enrichment, in addition to our electives for all in Art, Music, Drama, and Ethnic Studies. For students who need an additional challenge, we are working to offer Student Leadership, Health, and Computer Science.
Block Scheduling and Early Release
We will continue to follow our block schedule developed last year, where each class lasts for 72 minutes, to allow students to participate in hands-on, engaging lessons and Project Based Learning. Students are released early from class at 1:15 on every Tuesday and Friday, and may go home, participate in the after-school R.O.C.K. Program, head out to other programs around the city, or potentially sign up for technology internships at companies in downtown San Francisco. Stay tuned for more details if you are interested in the technology internships.
Welcoming New Falcons
We are so pleased to welcome the following twelve people to the Falcon Family! Darius Davis, African American Male Achievement; David Greenbaum, Drama/Musical Theater; Jessi Havel, 7th Grade Counselor (fall semester); Roosevelt Lewis, SDC Math; Melissa Padilla, Special Education Co-Teacher; Jessica Paz, Family Liaison; Mariela Ramirez, Accelerated Literacy; Chadi Shini, 8th and NX Science; Carl Siegel, Spanish/ELD; Gene Trainor, 7th Math; Malcolm Williams, 7th ELA; and Jordan Zanmiller, 7th Science.
We will continue our partnership with the SF Food Bank in order to provide families in need the access to nutritious meals. The Food Bank schedule will be announced in our Family Newsletter and on flyers in the main office.
Back to School Night: Wednesday, October 3rd, 5:00pm-7:00pm
This is a chance to meet teachers and the other families in your student’s classes. You will also learn important information about this school year. Please plan to attend and partner with us to ensure your student has a strong and successful school year!
Important Information for the First Day of School
First Day of School: Monday, August 20, 2018 8:15am-3:00pm
6th graders: Students should report to the cafeteria and look for their name and homeroom teacher on posted lists. Homeroom teachers will pick up all 6th graders at the cafeteria at 8:15am for a fun and community building orientation day. Parents are welcome to wait with their student and remain to hear some welcoming remarks from Principal Truss at around 8:20am.
7th and 8th graders: Students should pick up their schedules in the lobby from their grade level counselor before school, beginning at 7:30am. All students MUST arrive to pick up their schedule by 8:10am!
First Day of School Parent Social
Our Parent Club will be hosting a beginning of the year “Get to Know You” coffee social in the cafeteria at 8:20am on Monday, August 20. We will talk about volunteer opportunities and tutoring/clubs for students.
All back to school forms will be distributed during homeroom during either week one or week two, and are due back to homeroom teachers by Friday, August 31, 2018.
What to Bring
Students are advised to leave personal items, valuables, and unnecessary electronics or toys at home. Cell phones (and headphones) are permitted on campus but all electronics must be be off and away except before school, after school, and during lunch. For school supplies, students should bring:
A backpack (families in need of a backpack/supplies should contact our social worker, Chuck Waters)
Pens, pencils, highlighter, eraser
Requests for additional specific supplies for each class will be provided later in the week
What to Wear
VVMS does not have a school uniform policy, and students are expected to adhere to the SFUSD dress code.
Students may bring food from home or have lunch provided by the school. Breakfast and lunch is free for all VVMS students. In accordance with the SFUSD nutrition policy, please do not send your student to school with soda, candy, gum, or fast food. We do not have microwaves available for student use, and food ordering and delivery to campus is not permitted. If you are bringing lunch to your child, please bring it to the office and have the office call for your child to come get it.
7th Grade T-Dap Vaccination
California law requires that all incoming 7th grade students have proof of T-Dap vaccination before starting school. Students may start school on August 20th without T-Dap, but parents must bring or send in proof of vaccination with their child within the first 10 days of school.
Partnership with Planet Bee
We are excited to continue our partnership with Planet Bee, and have installed two beehives at our site in the front garden. Please alert our nurse, Ms. Rait, if your student is allergic to bees and look for the Health Information Form in the back to school forms packet.