PERALTA SCHOOL NEWS
Stephanie Vollmer's Big, Bouncy Dreams
One person was shocked when Stephanie Vollmer said she wanted to become a teacher — her mom. “Because she knows I don’t like to read, ” said Ms. Vollmer.
Ms. Vollmer’s declaration caught me by surprise. A teacher who does not read for pleasure? What a brave thing to admit.
Later, she clarified, “I do read, if there’s a topic I like. It took me years to get there. Here at Peralta, kids get to choose books that interest them. They read at their own paces. That’s great.”
Turns out that Ms. Vollmer is a mom, with two kids herself, plus a full time job teaching our kids. So, that spare time to fill with life’s pleasurable pastimes? Not so much.
Ms. Vollmer had no trouble recalling a traumatic incident from her 9th grade year. She has a roundish birthmark on her leg that caught the attention of an older, male student, who asked if it was a coffee stain. Instead of supporting teenage Stephanie and helping her with this fellow student, the teacher — not a paragon of sensitivity — called her “coffee stain” for the rest of the year. Mortifying.
On the other side of the mortifying scale, the one that tilts more toward funny, she shared The Curious Incident of Ladybugs in the Pocket, from her 4th grade year.
She and her three best friends were in the same class, at a school with a large grassy field. At recess, they’d go out looking for ladybugs, collecting and storing them in a container (with air holes!) in someone’s pocket, to be released at a later recess or after school.
One day, the container cracked open releasing a swarm of ladybugs into the 4th grade classroom. Young Stephanie felt terribly guilty that they had brought the ladybugs in, and that one of her friends was going to get in trouble for it. Thinking quickly, she told her teacher that she had a piece of cookie in her pocket that must have attracted all those insects.
The teacher either bought the cookie story or decided to reward her creativity. She let the incident slide. “I liked to talk to my friends in class, but I was helpful and a hard worker, ” Ms. Vollmer offered, by way of explanation.
In her own classroom, if money were no object, she’d get rid of all the chairs, putting the kids instead on big bouncy stability balls, to help students move around more within the confines of the classroom. Then she’d knock out walls and replace them with windows, letting natural light illuminate the space.
“I love working with kids,” she shared. “I felt a calling, even though I liked the idea of other jobs. Every day, when I come home, I’m happy. It’s very busy, but I need to be busy.”
That's it, friends. That's all the new teachers. If you missed any (really! how could you!), you can find them in previous issues: Madeleine McGuire (5th), Megan Larranaga (5th), and Natalie Ashby (3rd). Look for the profile of our Edible Garden Manager (with secret hidden contest), below. In the next issue, we'll move smartly along to our new School Secretary.
I would love to move on to other topics, but I can't
Even More about Middle School
I am duty-bound to share all the information, not just pelt it with witty repartee. And besides, I promised.
1) Thursday, Oct. 20, 6:30-8pm, Middle School Information Night
Peralta Multipurpose Room
Parents talk about their children's (and their own) middle school experiences and choices.
Note: the Peralta calendar incorrectly lists this event on Wednesday Oct. 26th. But hey, stuff happens. Things change. This date is the real deal.
2) Saturday, Oct 22, 2 - 4:30pm, Claremont Middle School Future Families Open House
Claremont Middle School, 5750 College Avenue
Come see where locals have been sending our offspring to get educated since 1916. While you’re there, hear from students, faculty, and administrators about life at Claremont.
(You can, of course, show up without registering, but the event's planners would really like to know who's coming in advance)
Cherries to persimmons, and lots in between
Miracle(s) on 63rd Street
Pantaleon Florez, Peralta’s new Edible Garden Manager, tells me that soon, the salad bar at Peralta will be stocked with lettuces that our children have grown themselves, on our own schoolyard. Editor: This is my goal at home, too, but between persistent hungry critters (no, not my child, I mean the wild kind) and the life changing magic of my own short attention span, I have not been able to make it happen.
But wait, there’s more.
When he looks at our school through the magic, money-is-no-object future vision glasses I lent him, he sees a school ringed in fruit-bearing trees, ripening in succession from spring cherries to fall persimmons. But first (magic glasses off), the TB testing and the fingerprinting — the current welcome mats for school workers and volunteers these days.
‘Edible Garden Manager’ seems like one of those job titles that straightforwardly describes the work at hand, but that’s not necessarily the case. Pantaleon explains his work as falling into four main sub-groups:
• giving students hands-in-dirt experience with gardening
• educating students about edible and (medicinal) plants and herbs
• leading gardening activities in after-care
• collaborating with teachers on garden research + practice in their classrooms
To wit on this last bullet point, the salad bar lettuce miracle will actually result from a joint research project with both 5th grade classes. Half the kids will plant lettuce starts indoors/half outdoors. That way, kids can test the conditions that produce the tastiest and best lettuces and also monitor the potential impact of local critters.
In a larger context, Pantaleon would feel proud to be known as “someone who contributes to the intersectional liberation of all peoples.”
Asked to tell me more about ‘intersectional identities,’ he credited the writings of civil rights advocate and scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw. Crenshaw coined the term to describe overlapping or intersecting social identities and related systems of oppression, domination, or discrimination.
“Intersectional identities cross through all aspects of human identities (gender, sexuality, ethnicity, religion, and so on.) Intersectional liberation means that every piece of the identity pie will be recognized and allowed to flourish and be free.”
He just returned from a vacation to his childhood home town of Topeka, Kansas, where he spent his time organizing, protesting, and visiting family. Here at his current home, he is continually looking to put in work for the Black Lives Matter movement.
Given what you now know about Pantaleon, it’s time to play Two Truths and a Lie. Identify which of these three statements is a lie:
• Pantaleon’s second language is German
• Pantaleon works for a community food security project
• His full name is Pantaleon Florez IV
First to correctly guess by sending the correct answer here wins a personalized invitation to the next Garden Work Day, November 5th, 9am-1pm — sponsored by the 4th Grade, those denizens of the portables — and a Peralta bumper sticker.
- Oct 14: Professional Development for the teachers. No school — unprofessional development? — for your kids. And maybe for you, too.
- Oct 21, 8:15am, Legalized drug-fest at school? Yes, it's time for another Brewing Community. Stick around @ the 63rd Street entrance after drop-off to caffeinate, eat pastries and chat about the Peralta Broadcast, or anything else that might somehow be more interesting. Proceeds benefit the school. Caffeine benefits us all.
- Oct 23, 12 noon: Walkathon. Have you ever tried to get your kid to hike or walk more than, say, a mile or two? Fraught with peril. Perhaps, like me, you've even used treats to motivate them. At the Walkathon, they'll all happily walk 4, 6 or 8 miles with their classmates. You get to outsource the bribery, I mean, incentives to the PPTG in the form of small, plastic doodads of little monetary value. Win-win.
“I will always remember when the stars fell down around me and lifted me up above the George Washington Bridge.”
Which classic children's story opens with this line? First person to send the correct answer to this address wins a personal reply — from me — and... a Peralta mug.
Previous answer: Mathilda, by Roald Dahl
Winner: Elizabeth Dalia, in 3 minutes flat
Fun fact: Every correct entry accrues "frequent entry points." I have no idea what these will be good for, but they will be good for something. Trust me.
Next SPECIAL issue should come out next week: Walkathon edition
It's gonna be that good. Flash interviews with and pictures of a handful of the reasons we are all here, reading this email.
Next regular issue should come out October 25th.
Around 2pm. For those of you who feel really competitive about the Read Me challenges. Stay tuned. Tell your friends.
The Diversity/Unity Committee wants YOU...
to eat tasty food
Leeks with Olives
Can't you almost taste it? Click here for the full recipe. The Diversity Dinner is coming. November 5th, 5pm.
ABOUT PERALTA BROADCAST
Raise your hand (honor system) if you want to spend your time reading a bunch of plugs. Right. Let us agree not to "plug" events. If, however, you have any school or class announcements, or interesting community events you'd like to share with your fellow Peralta-ites, please do email or forward the information to this address. We publish every two weeks or so. Kudos, complaints and scintillating ideas for future posts can go to the same.