• Message From the Principal

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    Upper body Picture of Principal Shawntanet Jara


    May 03, 2020

    Dear Solana Highlands Families,

    I have to start this newsletter with “we miss all of you” because we do, very much! Here’s is what you will find in this edition:

    • Intent to Return REMINDER
    • Foundation Video
    • Afternoon Coffee with the Principal
    • Reflection: Resilency

    REMINDER: Intent to Return Google Form

    In normal circumstances, this is the time of year that we send a hard copy of the Intent to Return form for the following school year. This year we are asking you to share this important information via a google doc. We are planning for staffing for next year and this information is vital in helping us prepare. In addition, we will be asking if you have an incoming kindergarten friend joining us as well. Please help us as we make plans for next year by completing this survey right away!!

    SH-Intent to Return- English

    SH-Intent to Return-Mandarin

    Foundation Video

    If you have not seen this Switcheroo video, please check it out! Our Foundation-supported programs have brought so much joy to our school community and our especially the students. Thanks to all of you who support our programs and make them thrive at our school. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Uq1yxOT6148HpGGnME9xCvEB-ImWkjzI/view?usp=sharing)  I hope this bring you some joy!         

    Afternoon Coffee/Tea with the Principal

    Please come and join me for an afternoon coffee or tea. This is completely informal, no agenda, no notes, just us connecting and sharing our experiences as we have been apart. Please know that I do not have answers to many questions and that as a district we are committed to delivering consistent and updated messaging across our seven sites. The purpose of this time is to connect. Hope to see you there!

    Topic: Afternoon Coffee/Tea with the Principal

    Time: May 12, 2020 4:00 -4:45

    Join Zoom Meeting


    Meeting ID: 912 6471 0336

    Password: 020734

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    +16699009128, 91264710336# US (San Jose)

    Reflection: Resilience

    As a Principal team across seven SBSD elementary school sites, we are in constant collaboration ensuring consistency with distance learning and communication to our families. Since the beginning of school closures, our Principal team meets regularly to develop consistent weekly messaging.  We developed a bank of resources as we swiftly transitioned from what we are familiar with in best practices in education to provide a remarkable education through a modified instructional day utilizing the platforms of SeeSaw, Google Classroom, and live connectivity.

    Our past communications have included topics around gratitude, adult/parent self-care, fostering student independence and routine, and integrating strategies from Love and Logic to support positive parenting.  This week, we discuss the idea of resiliency during this unprecedented time.

    A recent blog post from Tim Klein, Boston College Professor, validated the importance of 21st-century skills in preparing our children for future college and career endeavors. These same skills, which we have proactively fostered in Solana Beach: critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, and communication, equip our children to navigate uncertainty. As a community, we have been dedicated to building the foundations for our children’s future success through the development of school site goals and the commitment of our Solana Beach Schools’ Foundation for Learning.  These efforts are not on pause, they are at play more now than ever.  In his post, Mr. Klein reminds us that Shakespeare wrote King Lear while in quarantine and Isaac Newton figured out the theory of gravity while on lockdown during the bubonic plague.  What will our Solana Highlands’ kids accomplish as a result of this pandemic?  Our kids are equipped with the talents to make a difference in this world, and we remain committed to providing quality education that will advance and inspire each student to achieve their own personal greatness.

    COVID-19 has unquestionably impacted all of us.  We are faced daily with the task of reorganizing ourselves personally and professionally to manage through this pandemic as new information and restrictions unfold.  We are also coping with many unknowns.  A blog post from Katie Weir, Licensed Play Therapist in Kindred Collective, entitled Shepherding Children Through COVID-19 referenced the work of Garry Landreth from a Child-Parent Relationship Training and the following key points were highlighted to foster successful interactions with our children:

    • Focus on the donut, not the hole: Focusing on the donut encourages us to focus on our strengths and abilities. We want to take COVID seriously, yet choose what we focus on with our children in conversation. The more we focus on the donut, the more we feel hope. For example, the heroic efforts of the people on the front line, our mailpersons, health care workers, and technology that allows us to communicate with one another.
    • Sometimes behavior needs to be corrected, however, all feelings are accepted: During this time, children may feel sad, mad, happy, scared, uncertain, nervous, and maybe even excited when they would typically be at school.  Feelings might change from moment to moment or from day to day.  No matter what feelings our kids show, we need to accept their feelings before providing boundaries or reassuring information.
    • Be a Thermostat and Not a Thermometer: Thermostats set the temperature of our home environment and thermometers to respond to temperatures.  In this pandemic climate, our children need us to be steady, calm, and centered thermostats.
    • We cannot give away that what we do not possess: As mentioned in last week’s message, we need to care for ourselves, as adults.  Self-care is not necessarily selfish at this time, it is necessary.  We can’t give away a million dollars if we do not have it. Equally, we can’t extend ourselves to help our children if we are not feeling centric.

    As the novelty of school closure wears off and we realize more and more that our lives are radically different, we are thankful for the many educational and self-care resources being shared for us to consider, reflect upon and integrate as best as possible.  The extrinsic liberties we once took for granted to motivate our children or reward ourselves such as getting ice cream, sitting on the beach, swimming in the community pool, going to the movies, having additional iPad minutes at home, visiting friends, attending a birthday party, going to a local museum, theme park or favorite restaurant, are not available. Our human selves are wired to experience love and connections, to read facial expressions, to interact with others, not to be isolated. 

    Neuroscience tells us that our brains change when in quarantine and robbed of what we most enjoy.  Neuroscience tells us that when we are stressed our natural stress regulators (i.e., hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis) take over. The “feel-good” chemical in our brains, dopamine, can be inhibited with our current shelter in place restrictions. With our routines disrupted, our brains are not readily giving us that boost of dopamine we benefit from.  We now have to rely on more intrinsic motivators to accomplish non-preferred tasks.  To support resiliency, it is important to take a break and go outside for exercise or to set goals to learn a new skill or craft. All are of high value and will stimulate the release of serotonin, another natural feel-good agent in our brains.

    During this pandemic, when it may seem like we are involuntarily deprived of our joys, focus on the “donut, not the hole.”  This perspective might trigger the ingenuity of our kids to craft music like Mozart, film-like Spielberg, write poetry like Maya Angelo or engineer like Tesla.

    A Harvard Business School Professor said, “Happiness is a butterfly, which, when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.” Perhaps, within this pandemic, is our opportunity to reflect on our purpose by finding meaning in balancing family, career, service, friendships, teaching, and learning.  Members of our District leadership, some of our PTA/PTO and Foundation parent leaders, and staff across the district have read the book, “The Energy Bus” by Jon Gordon.  This novel reveals ten ideals for facing challenges with a positive, forward-thinking approach. A favorite quote by the author, “Positive energy is like a muscle, the more you use it, the stronger it gets. The stronger it gets the more powerful you become. The more you focus on positive energy, the more it becomes your natural state.” Embracing the positives will support a calm and nurturing environment for our children.  Focusing on positive encourages mental wellness.  In our District, we highlighted the importance of social-emotional learning.  Creating a secure and predictable environment for which we work and play will provide opportunities for our children to grow from this experience and in their educational journey.

    Bryan E Robinson, Ph.D. writes, “find something you can control, it boosts your resilience.” Might we look at parts of COVID that are not so scary and break these parts into smaller experiences that we can control?  Having a sense of control in this pandemic will shift our perspective.  Here are some tips from the Psychology Today post (March 2020), “The Most Powerful Weapon Again COVID-19: Finding Something You Can Control It Boosts Your Resilience” that supports this view:

    • Practice doing small gestures in the home or acts of kindness to others.  A recent story was shared where a parent simply vacuumed to take their mind off of it all.  The house felt better and a task accomplished.  Another story shared, was buying a coffee in the drive thru Starbucks for the car behind them.
    • Be Creative: Teach yourself to play an instrument, craft, or write a note to a special someone. The lost art of a good handwritten note or a card made by our kids can go a long way toward happiness in someone else’s day.
    • Take Positive Action: Turn “can not's” into “cans”. Take time to pull weeds from your garden, reduce clutter in a closet, organize bookshelves or catch up on a hobby.

    As we enter our final weeks of school with distance learning, bridging our home to school partnership remains critical.  Cooperatively, we’ll focus on crystalizing all that the children learned early in this school year and work collectively to keep learning experiences achievable so that our children feel a sense of control by enabling a sense of success through school tasks or home activities.  This period of time is historical and our children have the opportunity to create epic memories. Let us continue to support one another on behalf of our children and their overall wellness by creating environments and providing experiences that empower each child to find purpose and meaning during this unprecedented time in their young lives.

    For extended information on the Neuroscience of our brains during lockdown please reference: T.J. Cole, April 2020, The London Economic: This is How Your Brain is Changing in Lockdown: The Neuroscience of Coronavirus Quarantine. https://www.thelondoneconomic.com/lifestyle/this-is-how-your-brain-is-changing-in-lockdown-the-neuroscience-of-coronavirus-quarantine/24/04/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=this-is-how-your-brain-is-changing-in-lockdown-the-neuroscience-of-coronavirus-quarantine

    For the full article by Arthur Brooks (April 2020) in the Atlantic: The Three Equations for a Happy Life, Even During a Pandemic.


    The Energy Bus by Jon Gordon and positive podcasts: https://positiveuniversity.com/

    The full article in Psychology Today by Bryan E. Robinson Ph.D. (March 2020) The Most Powerful Weapon Against COVID-19: Find Something You Can Control, It Boosts Your Resilience.



    Shawntanet Jara
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Solana Highlands Elementary School

    Mrs. Jara’s Twitter: @LeadwLovePower
    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PTASolanaHighlands/

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