Monday Notes from the Head of School, 10/22

"Growth is never by mere chance; it is the result of forces working together." -James Penney

Dear Palm Valley Families,

There are so many incredible things happening on our campus and with our students right now - I am not sure where to begin! Our 6th graders returned from an engaging Outdoor Education retreat to Catalina Island where they learned about marine ecosystems and participated in some valuable team building and bonding. Today, our 7th graders are away for a similar Outdoor Education experience with the Pathfinder program in Idyllwild. We are looking forward to hearing from them upon return! These experiences and more are examples of the programs that make a Palm Valley School education so valuable for students. We believe in hands-on learning, inquiry, and exploration, and in the value of using outdoor spaces and destinations as classrooms to experience and learn from. It also doesn't hurt that these spaces allow students to bask in the incredible beauty that Southern California can offer us. As always, I am particularly thankful for our incredible team of educators who accompany students on these and other field trips. We have an amazingly gifted and dedicated group of educators that go above and beyond for our students here each and every day. Please join me in taking a moment to thank them if you have the opportunity!

As a leader, I am often faced with difficult decisions. Decisions that are never entered into lightly and the specifics of which can't always be shared publicly. As such, those decisions can sometimes be misunderstood and/or unpopular. However, I feel confident that they are always made in what is the best interest of the whole school. I want to reassure all our families that I have always had an open door for you to come in to discuss anything, including the sharing of concerns and complaints. I meet with parents and families very frequently at Palm Valley for a variety of reasons. I am always grateful for the candor and respectful conversation that our parents and families are willing to have with me. I strongly believe that it is only through receiving authentic, reasonable, and honest feedback that our school community will continue to improve and that the relationships between families and the school are strengthened. I am personally grateful for the strong relationships that I have developed with families through sometimes difficult conversations or working together for a resolution on challenging topics. I am further grateful for our strong and supportive Board of Trustees during times of challenge and difficult decision making. As mentioned in my Monday notes in September, I will be hosting two dates for "Coffee with the Head" to discuss our school and any topics that arise with families. These coffee dates are an important opportunity for me to hear what is on your minds and to address topics of parenting, school policies, concerns/questions, curriculum and programming, future plans for the school, setting expectations, and more. So often these conversations result in positive changes for the school and they are valuable conversations for me to have and hear. There are always ways we can improve the school experience through your feedback. These Coffees will be held in the Multi-Purpose Room (MPR) in the Middle School building on Thursday, November 1st and Thursday, November 8th at 8:30 am. Please join me! If you can't make these or your Division level Coffees, you can always reach out to anyone on the Administrative team to set up a meeting or phone call. We want to hear from you!

Lastly, we have our Annual Fall Festival for families coming up on Saturday, October 27th. This annual family event is always one of my favorites. Sally Hawthorne and the Parent Association have been arduously working to ensure it's the best one yet! To that end, we are still looking for more parent and family volunteers to help us staff the many booths and rides that day. If you are willing and able to volunteer for just an hour that day, please sign up here. Join us for games, rides, face painting, food, crafts and more from 3 pm - 6 pm on the field. There are activities for children of all ages! Admission is free, and you can purchase tickets for the rides and games at the registration table that day. Additionally, this event is open to the public! RSVP at I can't wait to see you there.

Thank you for all you do to make our school such a positive and engaging community. Make it a great week, Firebirds!

Susan Rice
Head of School