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November, 2015


Each year, I like to remind parents about the great effort our staff and students engage in to ensure a positive and safe learning environment for all children.  As a school, we subscribe to the Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) model that consists of several steps to teach and model expectations, to recognize positive behavior, to track student behavior data, to hold each other accountable, and to regularly reinforce our 3B’s - Be Respectful, Be Responsible, and Be Safe.

If a child doesn’t know how to swim, we teach him.  If he doesn’t know how to ride a bike, we teach him.  If he doesn’t know how to read, we teach him.  But when a child misbehaves, we frequently resort to punishment, rather than teaching.  PBIS begins with instruction, as we teach students what respectful and responsible behavior looks like in all the settings at school, including the classroom, the hallways, the playground, the cafeteria, and the bathrooms. 

The instruction continues in a more structured form, as our counselor, Mrs. Burns, visits classes every week and delivers lessons on character development, friendships, conflict resolution, anger management, and communication.  

The data around our student behavior indicates what we’ve known all along:  we have wonderful students at Wrightwood Elementary!  Obviously, kids will test the boundaries, and they will act impulsively sometimes, but they respond quickly and return to expected behavior, and they are quick to apologize, learn from their mistakes, and move on.  We are averaging less than one disciplinary referral per day this school year.  Only seven students (2%) have three or more referrals.  That means 98% of our kids have excellent behavior and self-control during their school day.  That makes me very proud!

Even when a child misbehaves, we respond instructionally, with the belief that we can teach better behavior.  We revisit the expectations, we walk the student through their series of decisions, and we hope they emerge from that experience a little smarter than they were. 

We also go out of our way to reinforce positive behavior.  When students behave appropriately, when they follow those 3B’s and treat others with respect and kindness, they will be recognized by our staff members.  Every month, Mrs. Burns and I host a Raccoon Pride assembly, when we single out a few students for their extraordinary responsibility, politeness, and empathy.  I also host a Mountain Money Party every month that children can buy their way into with $20 of Mountain Money.  Each month, I collect over 2,000 Mountain Money dollars, evidence that students are being caught doing the right thing thousands of times over the course of the year.

I recommend that parents incorporate the 3B’s in their households to build on the success we’ve had in the school setting.  What do the 3B’s look like at the dinner table?  At your grandparents’ house?  When friends are visiting?

It is our hope that we hold students to behavior expectations that are consistent with the way parents would want their children to behave.  I always say that I treat the kids as if they were my own.  That may be a good thing or not, but I hope that you trust that I will treat them with fairness and respect, while still maintaining the authority and standards that children must learn to live with.

John Garner




The Ski and Snowboard Program is one of the most unique and special things about attending Wrightwood Elementary School, and with El Nino, it’s going to be a banner year!  The Ski and Snowboard Program will be starting right after Christmas, and the registration night is this Thursday, Nov. 5, from 5:00-8:00.  Representatives from Mountain High will be there to explain their program, answer questions, and help people get signed-up on-line. 

The Ski Swap is this Saturday, Nov. 7, from 11:00-3:00 by the lunch tables.  This is a great opportunity to get a good deal on some clothes and equipment that’s only been used a few times.  If you have anything to donate, we’ll make sure it gets put in the hands of a family who can use it.



The first grade classes at Wrightwood Elementary are working on “sprucing up” the outdoor lunch area. We are getting ready for a Spring garden. If you have some supplies left over from an old home project or want to get rid of some unused things around the yard, we are looking for donations of the following items: old stepping stones (any shape or size), old bricks, trellises, organic potting soil, very large plastic or wooden containers for growing (any shape), low border fencing, and anything else you think we could use. Thank you in advance. Donations can be dropped off during school hours in the staff parking lot next to the fence by the lunch tables.



The Mother-Daughter Event this year is going to be action-packed, with aerobics, yoga, crafts, and pictures.  It sounds like a fun night of girl bonding, and all girls are invited to come with their mother or another special lady in their life.  The event is on Friday, Nov. 13 (yes, Friday the 13th!) from 6:00-8:00.



This is my annual reminder to parents that the staff parking lot outside the cafeteria is not to be used as a drop-off zone in the morning, or a pick-up in the afternoon.  With staff members coming and going in the vehicles, it is not a safe place for children to be walking.  Students should be dropped off at the pull-through or the Z-gate on Spruce, in front of the school, or at the Pine St. entrance.  Please understand the importance of this request, as we don’t want an accident to occur when it is so easily preventable.



This is my other annual reminder, please supervise your children at the park after school.  I love to see kids having fun as much as the next guy, but unsupervised kids have a way of finding trouble if they are left alone for too long.  I have heard a number of complaints recently of kids that are using foul language, hitting, and otherwise acting inappropriately, all while waiting for their parents to pick them up.  School is out at 2:50, and if you want to allow your child to play at the park after school, please be there to watch them and make sure they are acting in a way that would make you proud.



October, 2015



When I think of all the things that make Wrightwood Elementary School so unique and successful, I begin with the commitment and partnership of our staff, students, parents, and community.  This month, the fruits of those relationships are visible in the form of several extracurricular activities, including the Walking School Bus, the Chinese and Spanish Clubs, the Running Club, Student Council, and the Strings Club.  The influence of Wrightwood Elementary School spans far beyond our school campus, into the community and even “down the hill.”

On Oct. 7, over 90 students participated in the first day of the Walking School Bus.  This is a great partnership between our students, parent volunteers, and a community that supports our school with their time (several route leaders are not parents, but are involved community members), as well as their financial support.  The local non-profit organization One Town has committed their support to purchase t-shirts and safety vests for every child, and they’ve ensured leaders have background checks and fingerprints, ensuring parents that their children will be in safe hands.

Further, One Town has created a scholarship fund for all Wrightwood Elementary students, paying them $1 for every day a child participates in the Walking School Bus.  With 180 school days during the year, our students have the opportunity to earn hundreds of dollars upon graduation that they can use toward a college savings plan.

It is not too late for anyone to join the Walking School Bus.  We’ll take new students and new volunteers at any time.  Information is available in the school office.  Get on the Bus!

Also, big thanks to Mrs. Quinn and Mrs. Mendez for volunteering their time for our Chinese and Spanish Clubs every Thursday afternoon.  The clubs were so popular with the students that I had sadly had to limit them to just fourth and fifth graders.  But that’s a good problem to have, and I hope our younger students will look forward to their opportunity to learn a new language when their time comes.

Our Running Club has about 100 students participating, and on Oct. 16, 42 of our most committed runners competed in the Mount SAC Cross Country Invitational, the largest cross country race in the world.  Everyone ran with a lot of heart and pride, and our 4th grade girls came in 1st place against all the other schools competing!

Mrs. Ward, our music teacher, has started a new after school Strings Club, for students in 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades who would like to learn to play the violin or cello.  All of our students have the opportunity to shine at the microphone when Mrs. Ward takes students to perform patriotic songs at the Veterans Day ceremony at the Wrightwood Veterans Memorial Park on Nov. 11.

I am extremely proud of the well-rounded academic and social experience our students get at Wrightwood Elementary School.  I hope your children take advantage of all of these opportunities, and any parents would like to create an extracurricular club of interest, we’d love to hear from you!

John Garner