School Newsletter

Spring 2013

Kindergarten News – February 2013

First Grade News – February 2013

Second Grade News – February 2013

Third Grade Highlight – February 2013

Fourth Grade News – March 2013

June 2012

School Newsletter in pdf


Welcome to the final week of the school year – We are amazed at how quickly the time has passed.  These past months were packed with events and activities.

May opened up with our Arts and Letters Open House Evening and the Student Talent Show on May 4th.  We enjoyed seeing you and talking with you; and we hope you enjoyed viewing the displays from all the grades. The Talent Show was fun to watch and the children did a great job!.

In mid-May we had the long awaited Enchanted Evening in Italy. Thanks for everyone’s support for our amazing Dinner and Auction!  Your donations, support, and attendance made it a lively night and something to look forward to for next year! In fact plans are already being made for next year, so get your tickets early in the fall, because it will be better than ever as our school celebrates 25 years!

Once again, thank you to all Principled Academy families for supporting our first wildly successful Bike-A-Thon that we had at the end of May!  Kids loved learning about bike safety from San Leandro vice Mayor Michael Gregory, having their bikes professionally adjusted by Scott Edwards, owner of the Endless Cycles bike shop in Castro Valley, having their helmets properly adjusted by Dr. Sally Scrutchin, and then, best of all, riding around the big yard!

Because of your generous support, The Principled Academy was able to donate over $700 to the AIDS/LifeCycle cause.  Dr. Sally Scrutchin will visit the school after her historic bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles.

On June 6th, the 7th and 8th grade class presented their biographies of seven senior citizens residing at the Altenheim Senior Center in Oakland to a crowd of interested seniors at the Altenheim.  Mrs. Seher had introduced seniors from the Altenheim to our school earlier in the year, and they were interested in interacting with our students on a biography project.  Over the last two months, our 7th and 8th grade students visited the Center and worked in pairs to interview a senior about his or her important life lessons, and how s/he wants to be remembered.  Each student pair created an exciting PowerPoint presentation, featuring text, scanned-in photos from the senior’s life, and short video-taped interviews.  The results were spectacular!  During the celebration at the Altenheim on June 6th, each student pair narrated their PowerPoint in person, adding their own special energy to the presentations.  Many seniors had tears in their eyes.  All were amazed at how clearly and confidently our students spoke.  The Altenheim’s director confessed, “I cannot even speak as well as they do!”  Thank you to Mrs. Diaz and Mr. Jonathan Golden for helping the students create the PowerPoint presentations.   Congratulations to our students for doing something wonderful which will long be cherished.

Also in May and June in the midst of wrapping up the school year some classes had field trips to the Sun Gallery, Garin Park, Raging Waters and Santa Cruz!

Congratulations to our 8th grade graduates going off to High School in the fall!

As our wonderful eighth graders prepare to graduate, we recall some of them as younger children, delighting in exploring the world around them, thrilled as they learned new things.  It was especially poignant when they passed important thresholds like learning to read and write, joining the world-wide and history-wide community of thinkers.   What a privilege it has been for their teachers and for us to walk with them on this special journey of development!

One of our heroines is, Mary McLeod Bethune (1875-1955), an educator and pioneer in our field.  Her dream was to found a college in the south for black students who did not have the same opportunities that white students had for higher education.  Ms. Bethune started humbly, going door to door selling pies to raise money.  She spoke to everyone she met about her vision and slowly her dream became what is now Bethune-Cookman College.  Over the door of her school she wrote:  “Enter to learn.  Depart to serve.”

We are confident that Emma Iredale, Kent Watanabe, Kha Dan, and Ayinde Mitchell will take this very fitting motto to heart as they graduate from The Principled Academy.  Their past and present teachers and we are all so proud of their service, not only to our own students and families, but to the larger community.  They have exercised their leadership in a very positive way among the student body, serving as role models to the younger students.  We are confident that each one of them will inspire their peers as they enter high school and college.  They have had an excellent foundation at The Principled Academy.  Kha Dan will be moving to Mississippi to live with family and attend High School there; Ayinde Mitchell and Kent Watanabe will attend Arroyo High School; and Emma Iredale will attend Castro Valley High School. We are excited to see the beauty, care, love, and service of the lives they construct for themselves in the future.  May God bless our graduates!  We are proud of you and your accomplishments and we wish you the best for your future!!

Congratulations to all of our students for completing another year and advancing to the next grade!

Promotion and Graduation Ceremonies Monday and Tuesday:

Monday, June 11:  Preschool/Kindergarten Graduation/Promotion Ceremony, 7 p.m.

All students will walk across the stage and receive an award. Please have your preschool and/or kindergarten child in the main building between 6:30 and 6:45 pm. Your child may dress up in nice clothes for the event. Cookies will be served after.

Tuesday, June 12:  Awards Assembly and Graduation/Promotion Ceremony for all students in 1st-8th grade.

Every child will walk on stage to receive an award and promotion certificate. Please have your child in the main building between 6:30 and 6:45 pm. Your child should wear clean dressy clothes for the event. Cookies will be served after and Jamba Juice smoothies will be on sale for $4.

We are grateful for our hardworking teachers who invest 100% into their profession to nourish the hearts and minds of our students each and every day.  Thank you to our fantastic PTO headed by Alycia Adams, Carol Pollard and Che’rie Barnes.  With the help of the Class Parents:  Trinity Schreiber, Deborrah McCarter, Lisa Randon-Walker, Momina Foss, Sharon Steele, Teresa Goodlow, and Nancy Bergman, they put on Trunk or Treat, Breakfast with Santa, an amazing Teacher Appreciation Day with flowers, fruits, and goodies, and most of all The Enchanted Evening! It was the best dinner and auction ever put on by The Principled Academy!

Most of all we are grateful to you, our parents and supporters, who trust us to take care of and educate your children.  We could not do it without you!

Preschool and kindergarten program runs through the summer with some science camps for older children in between. The office will be open almost every day, so please call or email if you have questions or you just want to stop by for a visit.

We wish you all the best for a fantastic summer!


Kristina Seher and Brenna Iredale

June 2012


PRESCHOOL NEWS – Miss Annie, Miss Margareta, Miss Regina, Miss Yoshiko, Miss Kimie

Spring is blossoming in our classroom!  Plants, bugs, eggs, butterflies, rainbows and more are filling up our classroom!  The children love the saying, “April showers bring May flowers.”  Ask them about it.  Spring is such an interesting time of the year.

The children were excited to learn all about animals that lay eggs.  Ask them if they remember what we call animals that lay eggs.  (Oviparous)  The preschoolers know birds come out of eggs, of course, but like to think about and guess what other animals do.  Some guessed turtles, snakes, insects, fish, alligators and a few children thought that bears come out of eggs!  We have a great natural egg collection that the kids like to look at, compare, contrast and observe.  Ask them what bird has the largest egg (ostrich), the smallest egg (hummingbird), which egg is black and blue (emu).

The season of spring has so many interesting topics.  Everyone is growing a plant, which they love to water and observe!  The weather this year has been perfect for our “April showers bring May flowers saying.  We had so much rain and so much in our outdoor area is blooming and growing.  We talked about thunder and lightning after our stormy weather!

                There is such a huge variety of bugs.  Ask your kids how many legs spiders have?  And insects?   The children think it is funny that I appreciate spiders and am not afraid of them.  I told them that spiders eat lots of annoying bugs so that is the only reason!  We are learning some big words such as metamorphosis while we study about the life cycle of a butterfly.  We have caterpillar eggs that should arrive soon so we can watch the life cycle and not just read about in  books.  We enjoyed meeting all of you at Arts and Letters Day on May 4th and showing off our projects, pictures and photos.  Please note I have new emails: or  Thank you for letting us take care of your precious children.

I will see you most of you in the summer, and you can always contact me, Annie Steinbronn, at or by calling the school at 510-351-6400.

KINDERGARTEN NEWS – Mrs. Lapres, Mrs. Kamioka, Miss Alycia

Do you know what oviparous means?  Kindergartners learned that anything that hatches from an egg is oviparous.  This covers quite a lot of the animal world:  how many can you name?  All birds, reptiles, amphibians, insects, spiders, fish, snails, sea horse, sharks, rays and more.  There are even two mammals from Australia that lay and hatch eggs-the spiny anteater and the duckbill platypus.  We also studied about animals born alive and well (that would be mammals which include us, of course.)  Our field trip to Sulphur Creek in the Hayward Hills was a great complement to our animal study.  We were able to interact up close with some of the animals that we have been studying.  If you haven’t been there, it is a great place to visit on a weekend.  They take care of injured animals, releasing the ones that they are able to back to the wild and using those that they keep to educate children and adults about the wonders of animals.

 The kindergarten is alive with reading, writing, math and more!  Students are learning new words, writing in their journals, finding their sight words in our poems of the week and other books, counting to 100 by 2’s, 5’s and 10’s, and adding and subtracting with the classroom manipulatives.  They also planted pea, bean and flower seeds and are patiently waiting for them to sprout.

We had several fieldtrips at the end of the year.  We went to a local fire station to see all of their equipment and learned what they do to keep our community safe.   We also attended a play, “Jack and the Beanstalk” at the Chabot College Theater and visited The Sun Gallery on E. Street in Hayward where we saw the art collecting entitled “The Wild, Wild West.”  They have a large art studio in the back where we did an exciting art project.

Thank you for your support and have a great summer!

 FIRST GRADE – Mrs. Holstein, Miss Annie

Spring is upon us and the first graders are celebrating in various ways.  Currently, we are studying seeds and the life cycle of plants.  We are learning that a little plant resides inside every seed and discovered this by soaking a lima bean in water and observing how the seed coat of a seed falls off. We then opened the seed to discover a baby plant inside.  The students were so excited and amazed to make this discovery.  The students then took sunflower seeds, soil and small pots, and planted their very own sunflowers.  The first graders are keeping track of the progress of their plants by keeping a journal.  Each week they write and draw sketches chronicling the growth of their sunflowers. I am encouraging them to transplant their sunflowers into bigger pots or straight into their own gardens at home when the plants are big enough. The students have been inspired by photos some of my former students have given to me of their giant sunflowers. One picture shows one of my former students standing under her sunflower she transplanted into her backyard.  The sunflower is twice her size!  What an accomplishment for both the student and the sunflower itself!  It is quite amazing to see what one small seed can do.  So who knows, you may possibly be nurturing a huge sunflower in your backyard this summer!   I am looking forward to receiving many more photos depicting many more sunflower success stories, so please do not hesitate to show me your photos in the fall!


SECOND GRADE – Mrs. Richie

What do ballerinas and elephants have in common?  They both walk on their toes!  At least that’s what the Oakland Zoo docent told us on our recent field trip there.  I didn’t know that, did you? It’s hard to identify a favorite zoo animal, after walking around the whole zoo and visiting everything that day, but the students looked happiest when petting the goats and sheep.  And because we have our own pet stick bugs, the insect house, which has huge, foot-long stick bugs, was awesome!

In March, we explored the theme of oceans and the San Francisco Bay, and followed up on our studies and activities with a trip to Crab Cove in Alameda.  First on our agenda was a service project, beach cleanup.  The most interesting and least stinky, not so slimy find was Lisa’s discovery of a little toy car in the mud! We collected three big bags of trash. Unfortunately there was that much and more (trash).  Students could see that keeping our watershed clean requires a lot of picking up trash that others carelessly threw on the beach. We spent the rest of the day racing on the beach, jumping off (little) sand hills, climbing trees (low branches, parents!), playing kickball on fragrant green grass, and observing the animals and plants that live in this habitat.  The number one find on this trip?  Sand crabs, hundreds of them under rocks, then crawling on arms and hands of students.  The students were fascinated by these creatures.  They learned how to gently lift up rocks to find them and how to conscientiously replace the crabs when done observing.

Without the parents to drive us on our field trip adventures, we’d miss out on this kind of experiential learning that delights young children and leaves them with unforgettable memories.  We are so fortunate here at Principled Academy to have such wonderful families who are willing to take time off and spend the day with us, so thank you!  I hope you enjoyed your child’s display about the adventures I just described at our annual Arts and Letters Open House event!

Have a great summer and see you in the fall.

 THIRD GRADE – Mrs. Adams, Mrs. Barker

Field trips emphasize hands on learning: The third grade field trip to Sulphur Creek Nature Center in Hayward give us the opportunity to identify the characteristics of mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians. There was a nice collection of birds of prey and we even saw a majestic Golden Eagle. Our trip with the fourth grade to Lawrence Hall of Science in Berkeley and its “Imaginate” exhibit gave us an incredible opportunity to explore, experiment, build, and create to our hearts’ content. In addition, the third and fourth grades had the opportunity to perform their play “The Land of Many Colors” for the Third Annual Dream Builders “Friendraising” Breakfast in San Leandro. They practiced hard and performed well.

History and Science: Ancient civilizations have been the primary focus of our history study. However, Scholastic News, our weekly news magazine, reminded us that April marked the 100th anniversary of the Titanic disaster. Scholastic News has a digital counterpart on its website that extends the news articles and through that we watched a short video about the Titanic. We all agreed that it was too short and we wanted to know more, so we watched the National Geographic documentary “Secrets of the Titanic,” which included footage from the original 1985 discovery of the sunken Titanic. History and science combined for us as we realized the discovery was made possible by advances in technology. We then watched excerpts from more recent expeditions to Titanic. These expeditions used even more advanced technology to capture more footage of the ship in greater detail and allowed us to compare the different time periods and how much technology has advanced in recent years. Still, it’s a sad story and we needed to take some time to talk about that as well.

Math and Language Arts: In Math we are totally immersed in the world of multiplication and division as well as learning about parallel and perpendicular lines and shapes and even learning how to write checks and balance checkbooks! In language arts we’re becoming stronger spellers, writers, and readers.

We especially want to thank the parents for driving for the field trips and Room Mom Cherie Barnes for organizing the “behind the scenes” aspects of the class.

Have a great summer!

FOURTH GRADE – Mrs. Ivanenko

4th Graders Celebrate Our Nation’s Heroes and the Movers and Shakers in History

Research, research, research!  The 4th graders never stopped learning about new things as they utilized their computer skills garnered from what they learned in their computer class.  Their focus, outside of perfecting the student’s typing skills is to do a little research on famous people who brought about social change.  During the month of February, students chose a famous person in African-American history and wrote a report on that person.  Students brought once again to light the important accomplishment of these figures.  Students again used their savvy computer skills to research the important accomplishments during Women’s History Month in March.

As if finding out about heroes of social change was not enough, our 4th graders went on a fact finding mission on their favorite topic.  They had to find facts about any topic that piqued their interest by going to various informational resources.  The result, students produced beautiful and amazing posters displaying their topics.

As we concluded our unit on the life sciences, students duplicated the world’s land and water biomes.  Each table group selected a biome (a large ecosystem) and planned what types of plants and animals would exist in that ecosystem and created clay models of them.  They then placed them in a diorama and described the temperature and place that this particular biome existed in.

Our fourth graders did a poetry unit and have written some acrostic poems.  The following is just a taste of what great things they wrote:





Lucky and



I wish you all the best for a great summer!

FIFTH AND SIXTH GRADES – Mrs. Iredale, Mrs. Diaz, Mrs. Burns, Mrs. Barker

It has been an exciting year with the 5th and 6th grade class.  In History, we studied American History throughout the year.  American History began with the courageous Americans who fought and won their freedom. They transformed their dreams into truth and turned our country into a large and powerful nation. In their studies, students were introduced to the nation’s multicultural heritage by understanding that the United States was built by men and women from many cultures and ethnic backgrounds. The students watched a series titled, America: The Story of US.  It was exciting to see what they read from the History book brought to life.

In English, the students worked hard with Mrs. Barker writing and rewriting rough drafts and essays.  Mrs. Barker worked with each student individually to understand and improve the tedious process of writing a five-paragraph essay.

In Science, Mrs. Diaz had the students explore the Scientific Method by performing various experiments throughout the year. For example they created model volcanoes and tested different mixtures to see which type would have the largest eruption.  They also made pinhole projectors to view the historic solar eclipse in May.

The culmination of our school year was our exciting adventure to Santa Cruz Beach and boardwalk!  It was a  day of in the sun celebrating a year of hard work.  Thank you to all of Principled Academy families for supporting our class through our many Nacho Sales.

I wish you the best for a happy and healthy summer.


Since January, the 7th and 8th grade class have organized school activities such as Spirit Week, Pi Day and the Easter Egg Hunt activities.  Even though our students often times struggled to collaborate, they were always able to give +100% of themselves.  As part of the Acts of Kindness and Justice Challenge, our group of students decided to make a skit for morning service, a re-enactment of Rosa Parks’ refusal to give up her seat for a white passenger on a public bus.

Also since January, our class has been giving morning services on Friday.  It first started with our video club presenting videos on excluding others, bullying and cheating. It then took off with our students giving PowerPoint presentations on a virtue of the month, which they worked on in computer class. Teachers are now awarding students a yellow star when they are “caught” practicing these virtues!

In Science class we have been busy as well.  We started a unit on the laws of motion with an egg drop experiment.  Students worked together in pairs to design a device that can keep an egg from breaking if dropped from the roof of the school.  Few of our devices were successful on our first attempt, so we decided to redesign our devices using parachutes.  All of our devices were successful on our second attempt. This egg drop experiment then led the way for a parachute experiment.  We went on the rooftop again to drop different objects using parachutes made from different material.  We had fun studying about air resistance, mass and gravity.

Students worked hard on Science Fair projects for Arts and Letters.  Hope you enjoyed them!  Thank you for your continued support throughout the school year.  I wish you all the best for the summer and hope to see some of you at our Science camps.


One goal for middle school students is writing effective essays of various types:  Analytical, persuasive, descriptive, etc.  The essay is a basic form of expression in high school, college, and civic life.  In a recent essay I asked students to interview a parent or older person, and I provided sample questions about values, persons admired, and lessons learned in life.  My purpose beyond effective writing, was to connect students with the important values of their parents and to reflect upon their own ideals, relationships, and ability to overcome obstacles.  Writing, then, is not mere mechanics, but a means for social and emotional learning.

 In American History, we are about to study the period of the Civil War.  In our study of American history I want students to understand the best of America, as reflected in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, and the worst, as illustrated by the wanton killing of Native Americans and the brutal enslavement of African Americans.  In the honors of the Civil War, I want students to feel what the nation suffered, to understand the causes of the war, and to realize the choices a nation, like an individual, makes that causes enormous destruction.  We will study Lincoln’s behavior and his transformation during the progress of the war.  We will read and analyze several of Lincoln’s speeches, especially the Gettysburg Address.

Once a week students participate in a class focused on public speaking:  oratory.  I ask students to choose an article from a newspaper, magazine, or on-line essay, then to present the key ideas to the class.  The article, I emphasize, should relate to the political, economic, religious, or social aspects of our culture.  Although I comment on the speaker’s techniques in speaking before the class, I also use this teaching moment to explain the context of what is being discussed and, further, to connect the ideas of the speaker to what we have been studying in history.


June 2012

Monday, June 11:

Preschool/Kindergarten Promotion and Awards Ceremony, 7 p.m.

Tuesday, June 12:        1st – 8th grades dismissed at 12:15 p.m.  Preschool/Kindergarten held as usual.

1st – 8th Grades Awards Ceremony/Graduation, 7 p.m.

Wednesday, June 13:

Fun in the Sun Day, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m., Silliman Aquatic Center. Preschool/Kindergarten and Aftercare until 6:15 p.m. for students signed up.

Thursday, June 14:      SCHOOL CLOSED – Teacher Work Day

Friday, June 14:           SCHOOL CLOSED – Teacher Work Day

Monday, June 18:        Preschool resumes.  Kindergarten Summer Program begins.

July 2012

Wednesday, July 4:                 Independence Day.  SCHOOL CLOSED.

August 2012


September 2012

Monday, Sept. 3:         Labor Day Holiday.  SCHOOL CLOSED.

Tuesday, Sept. 4:         First Day of School.  Preschool opens 7:30 a.m.  Kindergarten room opens 8 a.m.  1st – 8th grade classes start at 8:30 a.m.

Thank you for your continued support of our school!



















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