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Back to School 2019-2020
Katherine White
Wednesday, August 14, 2019

August 2019

Dear Parents and Guardians, 

Welcome to an exciting year of learning at Mira Monte School!  Our Mustang Roundup for our transitional kindergarten and kindergarten students will be Tuesday, August 20th at 1:00 pm. We will finish before 2:00 pm. Students will meet their teachers and see their new classroom.  This will be an exciting afternoon for our youngest learners! We look forward to meeting you and your children!

For all of you returning students and those new to Mira Monte in grades 1-5, welcome!  The Mira Monte staff has been busy preparing classrooms for your arrival. When you arrive, you will see that many maintenance projects took place on our campus this summer!  New asphalt was installed on the big playground, and roofs, AC units and window coverings were replaced. Additionally, our new slide on the kindergarten yard! Other projects that are scheduled to be completed before the school year begins are the installation of two shade structures on the kindergarten yard, shade over the GaGa pit on the big playground, shade between building 23-30, two hydration stations, and a new top coating of asphalt on the parking lot! Everyone is racing to finish projects before our students arrive. 

Ricardo, Martin, and our substitute custodian, Virgilio, have been busy preparing for the new school year. They deserve a huge “thank you” from everyone! 

I’m looking forward to seeing all our 2019-20 mustangs. This will be a year full of making new friends, laughter, making lasting memories, and learning. 

Class lists for students in grades 1-5 will be posted on Parent Square and the office window no later than 5 pm the day before school begins. I will let you know when they have been posted. You will need your child’s student ID number to find your child on the list.  When you join Parent Square, your child’s ID number will be on the page. The ID number is also your child’s lunch card number. 

For our new Transitional Kindergarten and Kindergarten parents, here’s a brief introduction to the caring adults on campus who will likely interact with your children.

Ms. June Sears (kindergarten) - June has been teaching at Mira Monte for twenty-nine years. Both of her children attended Mira Monte School. June has a bachelor’s degree in psychology with an emphasis on statistics and math. She has a master’s degree in mathematics education. When she isn’t at school, June enjoys running and being Grandma to her new granddaughter. Her classroom is room 21.

Ms. Kortney Whaley (kindergarten) - Kortney is new to us this year from Nordhoff High School. You may wonder why a high school teacher would want to teach elementary school. Kortney was raised in Ojai and attended our public schools. When she returned to Ojai after college, we were not hiring elementary school teachers. We were, however, looking for a high school math teacher. Since she had enough credits for a supplemental credential in math, Kortney was interviewed and hired for that position. She has a degree in elementary education and credentials to teach all subjects at the elementary level and high school at the secondary level. She also has a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction. When she is not at school, Kortney enjoys traveling and leading the choir at her church. Her classroom will be room 22. She is replacing Ms. Moore who will be teaching part-time at Topa Topa next year.

Ms. Nadine Litonjua (transitional kindergarten) - Nadine has been teaching at Mira Monte for eight years.  Her children also attended Mira Monte. Nadine has a Liberal Studies degree and a Transitional Kindergarten certification.  This is Nadine’s first year teaching our youngest learners. When she isn’t at school, Nadine enjoys spending time with her family and volunteering in many capacities at her church.  Her classroom is room 35 (located on the edge of the big playground).

 Karen Oswald (playground supervisor) - Karen will be one of the two “go-to” staff members for anything related to recesses, breakfast, and lunch. She has been in this assignment for ten years. Both of her children attended Mira Monte School.  When Karen is not at school, she is usually busy volunteering in an NHS program for dance or music. 

Maria Alonso (playground supervisor) - This will be Maria’s second year working in this capacity.  Two of her children are graduates of Mira Monte and one will be a kindergarten student this year. When she is not at school, Maria enjoys spending time with her family.

Nicole Diaz (office manager) - Nicole has been running our office for five years. This will be Nicole’s first year as office manager without one of her children attending our school. When Nicole is not at Mira Monte, she is busy with the activities of her family. In a couple of years, her youngest will be attending Mira Monte. 

Amanda Belcher (office clerk and Kids Club coordinator) -  This will be Amanda’s seventh year at Mira Monte. All three of her children graduated from Mira Monte. Amanda is also a Mira Monte alumni! When she isn’t at school, Amanda is busy shuffling her children to and from their many activities. 

Katherine White (principal) -  This year will be my 27th year at Mira Monte. Before becoming principal 19 years ago, I taught primary grades.  The last grade level I taught was kindergarten. My husband is a retired Ojai Unified teacher and both of my daughters have teaching credentials. Both were Mira Monte School graduates. When I am not at school, I am busy traveling and spending time with my family. I became”Nana” to an adorable grandson this year! 

Important Information to Help Get You Off to a Smooth Start

Daily Schedules - Our Transitional Kindergarten and Kindergarten regular daily schedule is 9:00 - 2:00 daily with a few exceptions. Our kindergarten students who are learning English will begin their day at 8:15.  On Wednesdays, both TK and kindergarten are dismissed at 1:15. Since the entire school is dismissed at 1:15 on Wednesdays, be prepared for the parking lot to be especially congested on that day. 

When teachers review the kindergarten assessments administered before school begins (August 12-14), some kindergarten students will be identified as students who might need some small group instruction separate from their peers to fill gaps in prior learning so they can more easily learn the grade level standards. These students will have longer school days on M, T, Th, & F.  As students acquire the skills needed, teachers will move them out of the program. They will also move students if they begin to struggle. 

How will I know if my child needs to attend the before school (8:15) or after school (2:00 - 2:50) program?  When you go to the classroom to pick up your child after the kindergarten roundup, kindergarten teachers have prepared individual schedules for each of your children.  Please be sure you have that schedule before you leave

Students in grades 1-3 -- Mondays and Fridays - 8:15 - 2:50, Tuesdays and Thursdays - 8:15- 2:05, Wednesdays 8:15 - 1:15. 

Students in grades 4 and 5 (so strange not to include grade 6!) Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays - 8:15-2:50, Wednesdays - 8:15-1:15. 

Communication - In addition to this amazing new communication tool, Parent Square, we regularly use Facebook. Please consider joining the school page and your child’s grade level page. 

Mira Monte Elementary School        Mira Monte Transitional Kindergarten

Mira Monte Kindergarten            Mira Monte First Grade

Mira Monte Second Grade            Mira Monte Third Grade

Mira Monte Fourth Grade            Mira Monte Fifth Grade

Kid’s Club - This is a parent-pay childcare program that is sponsored by our PTO. The enrollment form will be made available on Parent Square as soon as possible. 

The Kids Club program operates from 7 am to 6 pm. Ms. Oswald, one of the two kindergarten supervisors listed above, provides the before school supervision that begins at 7 am and the after school supervision for TK and kindergarten that is available until the time other grades are dismissed.

In the afternoon, when the other grades dismiss, four employees provide supervision. They group the students by age span.  As the attendance begins to decrease as it gets later in the day, supervisors begin to leave. We close with one employee at 6 pm. The coordinator of the program is Amanda Belcher. She also works in our school office. Feel free to call her if you have questions (805) 216-7603.

Nutrition services-  TK and kindergarten students are invited to participate in the before school breakfast program that will take place from 8:45 - 9:00 every morning ($2.25).  The menu will be available on our district webpage or on the app, My School Menu. School lunch is also available ($3.50). Please consider putting funds on your child’s account for their meals. This can either be done online on Zangle Parent Connect or by dropping off cash or a check in the office. 

Of course, you can also send a home meal to school for breakfast and/or lunch to school.   If you send food from home, please let your child know which is for breakfast and lunch. You might also consider labeling it either “breakfast” or “lunch.”  We’ve had students get confused and eat all of their lunch early in the day. The recess between the start of school and lunch will no longer be a time for students to eat a snack since we will be providing breakfast at 8:45. If your child does not participate in the morning breakfast at school, please make sure they eat well before arriving at school. Lunch time takes place from 11:45 - 12:30. 

Our returning students in grades 1-5 will notice a few changes to our program this year. Items previously sold a la carte will no longer be available. There will be a set rotating breakfast with the option of cereal every morning at the beginning of the first recess. This recess is now referred to as “breakfast recess” by our staff.  We are excited about the changes that have been made to this program. Thank you to those of you who provided feedback on the survey regarding this topic that was posted on our general Facebook page last June. Students are welcome to bring items from home to eat during that time. PTO will be covering the cost of a supervisor to supervise students eating breakfast at the lunch tables. Students will no longer be taking food out to the playground.

We have a program for lower income families to receive a free or discounted breakfast and/or lunch.  Applications were mailed home. It will also be available on Parent Square and our district webpage. Even if you don’t use the program, our school funding formula is such that more students we have enrolled the more funds we qualify to receive. We need parents who qualify to sign up for the program. Funds can be deposited into your child’s lunch account through the Zangle Parent account, or by sending money to school (check or cash).  Forms for the parent Zangle account will be available on Parent Square soon. 

Transportation - The bus schedule will be posted on Parent Square.  The upper grade students begin their day at 8:15 and end their day at 2:50 on M, T, Th, F and 1:15 on Wednesdays. If you want your child to ride the bus at these times they will need to be enrolled in our childcare program during the time between dismissal and the bus arriving. 

That’s enough for now! I can’t wait to start our new year together!

Katherine White, Principal