After a long hiatus….

How sad to see that my last post was October 2016.  What happened this year to keep me from processing my thoughts, struggles, wins and setbacks via this blog?  Didn’t feel like anything needed such process?  Not confident to share?  Reflected in other ways?  Developed different routines?

Sudoku & hot water with lemon, a morning routine.

Hindsight is not helpful.  Suffice to say, it was a full year.  Full of ideas, problems to solve, collaboration, success and failure.  Year two at Valley Vista.  I love our students and families even more.  Staff and I have gelled nicely, building trust, having candid conversations about teaching and learning, wrestling with the future of our little school.  It’s been good.

Summer Birthdays in Kinder

Work/life balance remains in check.  That’s probably my biggest win.  Maintaining an exercise routine and nutrition plan has 100% supported my work, my stamina, my stress.  Probably the single best thing I’ve done for myself since becoming a principal six years ago.  Good routines, good people, solid goals.  Even ran my first 10K with VV staff!

My first 10K. Done.

I said “no” to many opportunities that would pull me away from my family and my school this year.  Annual CUE and Lead 3.0 were my two conferences.  Loved them both and that was enough.  All the people are energizing and the ideas invigorate my work and my thinking.  But I was mindful of time away and additional expectations that I didn’t have the capacity to meet.  I found balance.

Sharing a beer with a SoCal friend & colleague, Todd Schmidt. #lead3

Spent lots of time watching my boys play.  Another activity that fills me up.  Joshua played JV Soccer for his high school.  Jacob had his last year in little league.  I’m so thankful they play things I like to watch.  Or have I learned to enjoy watching the things they love to play?  And the bonus, they love their sport.  Eager for practice, ready for games, critical of themselves and celebratory as well.  I am a lucky mom.


Jacob & Joshua. Love to watch my boys play.

And our admin team.  What a blessing.  I lean on these people even when they don’t know it.  A text, a call, a look across a crowded meeting.  We keep each other buoyed up.  I doubt I could do this job without a stellar team like ours.  I’m thankful for each of them.

Petaluma Elementary Admin Team

So nothing earth shattering here.  Just warming up the blog again.  Getting the thoughts flowing, dusting out the cobwebs, remembering the year in broad brushstrokes.   Ready for a break.



My Neighbor Letter. Building Relationships.

We all share so much with our PLN and learn an equal if not great amount from our work together.  This week I was recounting a few to do’s to a small but mighty group on Voxer and their responses inspired this post.  Thanks #strataproblems, you make me a better principal.

It’s pretty simple.  I write a letter to our school neighbors at the end of summer.  It was my second year as a principal when I decided to start this annual tradition.  If you live near an elementary school, you know it can be a blessing and a burden.  Traffic, bells, basketball courts to play on, fields to play ball, and more traffic.  I wanted to open a conversation and give thanks.  Our neighbors are our allies, keeping an eye on the campus, looking out for the space and even our students as they come and go.

I didn’t hear back from many neighbors but the ones who did engage were lovely, supportive and appreciative.  When I moved school sites last year, the letter didn’t go out.  No good excuses, just a fact.  So I’m back in the saddle this year.  It’s ready for mailing.


One question that’s come up is addresses.  Two ways I’ve done that: Zillow and Google Maps.  Every school site is different and what defines neighbor really depends on how wide the impact of campus activity is for you.  This year I’ve included a nearby church whereas at my former school, the entire mailing list was residential.  My colleague, Amy Fadeji, wondered about her school as it is quite rural with few homes nearby.  I think a neighbor letter is even more important in this instance.  You have fewer potential stewards of the school so best to get them all engaged and understanding their value to the campus and community.  I say, Go for it!

Here are two samples of my letter.  You’re welcome to grab whatever works for you and your school community!  Building relationships, one neighbor at a time.

letter to neighbors August 2016 – Google Docs

letter to neighbors August 2012 – Google Docs