Step aside, P.E. from the Dark Ages, when we were kids...
Coach, For the Win
I found Coach Nicholas Reese leading Ms. Ana’s class of 4th graders in rounds of calisthenics interwoven with what looked from afar to be some kind of aerobic running/tagging game with balls. Then he gently blew his whistle (no screeching blast) and raised his hand. The students immediately stopped and crouched down quietly. In a normal conversational tone (no yelling), he explained the clean-up procedure, which the kids proceeded to calmly execute.
What sorcery is this?
It’s the magic of Coach, Peralta’s physical education teacher, now in what I hope will be his third of many years at Peralta.
A volunteer stint at Hoover Elementary pushed him toward this second career, which he came to after twenty years of producing music and touring. “The kids just need so much,” he explained. “Exercise fits in with learning. It’s just one more piece of the puzzle of how to live a good life. I was one of those kids who really needed to move around. They didn’t even try to teach me anything until 2nd grade, which is when I learned how to read.”
Coach strongly encourages parents to enroll their kids in after school sports, too. He also remembers that his parents signed up his first grade self for judo and soccer, two sports that he played and practiced into his 20s. “After school sports are where kids can use competition to push themselves further and harder than we do in school.”
Speaking of competition... each school week, Coach runs a contest among all 1st-5th grade Peralta classes to see which class can score the highest on his 30 point scale, though if this year’s Kinders were included, they’d be strong contenders. “I’ve never seen a Kindergarten class that gets along and listens so well,” he confided.
Coach awards a maximum of 5 points each for listening, respect, transitions, and three games or activities, in a series. If a class doesn’t make it through all three of the games, for example (because they’re not paying attention, or messing around or doing whatever kids do), then they don’t get a chance to earn those 5 points.
The winning class scores “Extra Game Time” with Coach. The fact that extra time with Coach motivates the kids to work hard speaks volumes about how much Peralta students value him and physical education. Ms. Larsen’s 2nd grade, and Ms. Ana’s 4th grade won the first two weeks.
Coach is in the middle of earning his teaching credential, though he’s taking a break this year so he can continue to focus on elementary school kids — his true passion. He hopes to be able to stay at Peralta long enough to see his first Kinder classes through to graduation. That class is currently in 2nd grade.
OUSD does not fund Coach’s teaching position. Your contributions to the Peralta Fund do. Your continued support — donate now — should allow us to keep Coach at Peralta for the next four years. That’s his goal.
Could we earn Extra Game Time after that? Time will tell.
This Librarian Won't Shush You
Psst: ceci n'est pas un librarian
During the upper grades’ lunchtime at Peralta, the library fills up, as pods of children fill the spaces to read, draw and play quiet games. Presiding over this gentle thrum of activity is Sonia Spindt, Peralta’s librarian since 1990.
Turns out Sonia’s not actually a librarian. She’s a bona fide credentialed teacher. She got her start as a teacher for in Los Angeles and Richmond, before opening a teachers’ supply bookstore in Albany. Then life took over — she had three boys in seven years.
When she resurfaced, her children all attended Peralta, where the PPTG made her what she considers “a lovely offer.” Would she be interested in running the library, perhaps 20 hours per week, bringing the classrooms in for projects and the like? She would.
Here’s one thing you cannot do at the Peralta library: check out books. The library runs completely on the honor system. When your kids go into the library and find books that pique their interest, they can just take them home to settle in for a good read. Same goes for you, children’s books or otherwise. The Peralta library also hosts a section that offers many popular parenting books. When you’re done, bring it back.
At Peralta, there’s just no need to overcomplicate the system. However, if she had unlimited resources (and energy!), Sonia would reorganize that system, cleaning the library out, reconfiguring the shelves and creating a larger, more comfortable reading area to accommodate her regulars in style.
One of the best ways you can support the library is… wait for it… YES, by donating money to the Peralta Fund. Awww. You have been paying attention, haven’t you? OUSD does not fund the library. Donate now.
Another way would be to buy books and tenuously-related stuff — bookmarks, posters, and the ubiquitous pull-apart erasers) at the Book Fair, happening right now.
Send your kids to school with small amounts of cash (can be held by teachers) or a check made out to the PPTG. Your kid can go at lunchtime. Or show up yourself with your credit or debit card and your patience after school.
A whopping 35% of sales at the fall Book Fair comes back to Peralta. If we raise even more (which is to say, if you spend even more), that percentage goes up.
Peralta Fund update
Davis/Larsen/Killebrew Killin' It
With the classes of Ashby and Osmond hot on their heels. But hey, it's not a competition. We will all get to 80%. Right?
Look around at drop off time, if you're able to be at school. About 2/3 of your fellow parents have already donated to the Peralta Fund. Please join us. Any amount helps our school reach our goal — to get 80% of us to contribute money towards paying for P.E., the library, art, music, the gardens, field trips and a variety of other things that OUSD simply does not have the money to pay for. Let us not be people who know the price of everything and the value of nothing.