September Principal’s Message

September 5th, 2016

Dear Joaquin Miller Families,

What a fantastic beginning to this school year! It has been wonderful to see all of you and your incredible kiddos in the hallways again. I have also enjoyed getting to know many of our new students and their families! As many of you know, one of my top priorities is to ensure that all students and their families feel welcome and included in our community. I have been really impressed by the manner in which our returning students have welcomed our new students. Keep up the awesome work!

Something new this school year is our “Theme of the Week” which was developed by our Instructional Leadership Team at a retreat in June. The first 10 weeks of the school year have themes that align to our Joaquin Miller Wolverine Way core values. For example, the theme of the current week is mutual respect. In each classroom, teachers will lead students in a discussion or activity around the weekly theme. Additionally, the students will be learning about the different types of bullying and how best to respond when bullying situations occur. Copies of our newly developed Joaquin Miller Anti-Bullying Protocol and Joaquin Miller Bully-Free Pledge will be coming home with each student this week. I will also post PDF versions of these documents on Konstella. I encourage you all to read through the Bully-Free pledge with your child(ren) prior to having them sign it.

I look forward to seeing you all at Back-to-School Night this coming Thursday, September 8th from 6:00 – 7:30. The evening will begin with a presentation on the Big Yard followed by classroom presentations. I also hope to see many of you at our first PTA general meeting on September 22nd and Family Reading Night on September 27th.

With appreciation,
Sara Green

Homework at Joaquin Miller

August 25th, 2016

Dear Parents and Students,

The staff and I have recently been engaging in conversation about homework. Current educational research shows that homework has no significant benefits for students in elementary school. As a result, teachers will be assigning minimal homework. We do expect all students to read either independently or with a parent or other family member for at least 20 minutes every night. Projects, interactive activities, and math problems may occasionally be assigned. Additionally, students may come home with unfinished work. Your child’s teacher will provide you with more detailed information about their individual homework expectations. If you should have any concerns about any assignments that come home, please contact your child’s teacher.

For additional information about the negative effects of homework for elementary school students and for alternatives to homework, please check out this article.

With appreciation,


Registration Packets are Ready for Pick Up!

August 9th, 2016

Dear Joaquin Miller Families,

THANK YOU to the parents who volunteered their time and energy to yesterday’s TLC Day! A HUGE shout out goes to Annette Dinsmore who coordinated the event! Thank you, Annette!

Registration packets are now available in front of the school. Please come by and pick up one packet per child. Packets are available in Arabic, Chinese, Spanish, and Vietnamese. The packets include the district documents that MUST be completed as well as our school calendar, the bell schedule, the parking/traffic plan, a letter from me, and information about our “Kids Come First” campaign. Please take some time over the next two weeks to read through all of the documents.

Our Registration Day and Expo is on August 20th from 9:00 – 1:00. You will need to bring all completed forms on this day. If you would rather complete the fillable English PDF versions of the district’s forms, I’ve attached them to this message on Konstella. If you are not registered on Konstella, please email me at and I will send them to you.

More information will be forthcoming regarding Registration Day. If you know you will be unable to attend on the 20th, you may choose to send your packet in with a friend or family member.

I am super excited about the upcoming school year and I look forward to seeing you all very soon!

Take care,


Introducing our New Teachers!

August 9th, 2016

Dear JM Family,
I am excited to announce that we will have four teachers new to Joaquin Miller in the coming school year! I requested that each of them draft a brief profile to introduce themselves to our community, and I have pasted them below. I can’t wait for you to meet them!
Take care,

Sanford “Scott” Gerber – 3/4/5 Special Day Class

I am Sanford Scott Gerber, but I go by Scott. I am originally from Oakland California and I am a product of Oakland public schools. I went to Lakeview Elementary and Westlake Middle School and graduated from Las Lomas High School in Walnut Creek. I have two adorable grandkids (Ben 6yrs old and Annie who is 4yrs old) that live here in Oakland with my son and his wife. We enjoy going to watch the Oakland Athletics on the weekends and we are loyal fans. My interests include art , music and great stories. I am really looking forward to start working at Joaquin Miller Elementary with all of you.

Sarah Bin – 4/5 combination class

Sarah Bin has been teaching since 2005. She has taught a variety of levels and subjects in public and private schools in both California and the state of Washington. She has a particular affection for Math and keeping her students active. In her free time, Sarah likes to run (if you live in the area, you may have seen her pushing her kids in her bright orange double stroller), travel and hang out with her family. Her own children are 1 and 3. Sarah and her husband moved to Oakland about a year ago and are excited to be a part of the Joaquin Miller community.

Eileen Walker – 5th grade

Eileen Walker is a first-year teacher and could not be more excited to begin her career with the OUSD and at Joaquin Miller in particular. After studying International Relations and Spanish at UC Santa Barbara, Eileen completed the Multiple Subjects Credential Program at Cal State Northridge in May, 2016. She enjoys working with students of all ages but has a special place in her heart for the fifth grade. Her favorite subjects to teach are writing and science, as they uniquely require the exploration of how components fit and work together. Eileen also places a great emphasis on developing the classroom community and a sense of social and self-awareness amongst her students. Her interests include running, reading, writing (especially poetry), practicing yoga, and hiking. She cannot wait to explore the hiking trails around Joaquin Miller!

Shelby Ziesing – 5th Grade

Shelby Ziesing has loved teaching and learning for many years. At different times a tutor, outdoor educator, adventure camp leader, and substitute teacher, Ms. Ziesing received her teaching credential from Mills College this past year. A native of the Bay Area, she left only to pursue a B.A. in Environmental Studies at Oberlin College. While there isn’t a subject she doesn’t love to teach, Ms. Ziesing’s favorite part about teaching is building community within and outside of the classroom. On weekends, Ms. Ziesing can usually be found swimming in the ocean (even in January).

May Principal’s Message

May 15th, 2016

Dear Joaquin Miller Families,

As I write this final Principal’s message for the 2015-2016 school year, I find myself overcome with emotion. This has been a transformative year of learning for me, filled with too many “firsts” to count! The support and feedback I have received from parents, teachers, staff, and district personnel have been crucial to my success as a first year principal.

Prior to being hired, I was tasked with developing a “transition plan” outlining my goals and action steps in the first 100 days of the school year. One of my overarching goals has been to establish a positive school climate in which all community stakeholders feel included. In order to achieve this goal, I knew I had to be visible on campus, establish open lines of communication with all community members, and not pretend to have the answers to everyone’s questions and concerns. I still have work to do with regard to this goal, but I know we have made great strides this year. I am especially proud of the PTA Board’s organization of our three parent education events, our Loteria Night hosted by the English Language Advisory Council and the Diversity and Inclusion Committee, and this past week’s schoolwide talent show organized by Julia Hollinger and Mrs. Scott. JM truly does have talent!

We still have some exciting events coming up! Our first Family Movie Night has been rescheduled to June 3rd and Field Day, organized by the incredible Mr. L., will be on May 31st. Lastly, we must bid farewell to our AMAZING fifth grade class as they are promoted to middle school on June 7th.

Though I am certainly ready for summer vacation, I am also looking forward to the upcoming 2016-2017 school year! To avoid the “summer slide”, I recommend having your kiddos read daily and keep a journal of their summer adventures. They can also continue to access online learning programs through the Joaquin Miller Student Launch Page throughout the summer.

I hope you all have a wonderful summer break with friends and family!

With gratitude,
Mrs. Green

April Principal’s Message

April 9th, 2016

Dear Joaquin Miller Families,
We have several busy weeks ahead of us with state testing, several community events, the JM Science Fair, and living history days. The third, fourth, and fifth graders will be taking the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress, sometimes referred to as the SBAC. Your child’s teacher should be providing you with a testing schedule for the coming weeks. We ask that you feed your kiddos a healthy breakfast and ensure they get plenty of sleep throughout the testing window. Also, please do not schedule any doctor’s appointments or other events that will take them away from school during this time.

The third, fourth, and fifth grades also have their Living History Days coming up. The fifth-graders have American Revolution day on April 13th. The third-graders have Rancho day on April 20th. The fourth-graders have African-American Migration to California Day on May 18th. All three of these events require additional support form parent volunteers to make them successful. Please consider joining in on the fun with your kiddos at these events!

The month of May will include numerous community events! Would you like to share your business or profession with JM students? Consider taking part in Career Day on May 13th. Flyers will be coming home with your kiddos. May 13th is also Asian Pacific American Literature Read-In Day and we are looking for volunteers to come in to read books to the students. Please email me if you are interested. Nina Senn, Vice President of the School Board, will be reading to a few classes and attending the career fair as well! We will have Grandparent’s Day on May 11th. On this day, students can invite their grandparents to come in and read stories in their classrooms.

These are just a few of our upcoming events, so please check Konstella and to keep up-to-date on all of our events!

With appreciation,
Mrs. Green

New Parking Plan

March 13th, 2016

Parking and Traffic Update –PLEASE READ!

Dear Joaquin Miller families:
I apologize for the length of this notice. I hope that you will take a moment to read this message in its entirety. I have divided it into subsections to make it easier to digest.

Kindergarten Pick Up and Drop Off Plan
The feedback for this new plan for picking up and dropping off kindergarteners has been extremely positive. We have already noticed a decrease in traffic issues before and after school. Please see below for the details.
A. Drop off: Beginning Tuesday, February 16th, kindergarteners may be dropped off in the drop off zone between 8:35 and 8:45. Ms. LaRenda or one of the kindergarten teachers will ensure your kindergartener makes it to the little yard.
B. Pick Up: Beginning Tuesday, February 16th, kindergarteners will be waiting on the sidewalk near the red curb to be picked up. The kindergarten teachers will have them outside at 2:30 on regular days and 12:50 on minimum days.

New Parking Plan

There are many schools across Oakland that have no parking lots at all. In the neighborhoods surrounding these schools, parents, caregivers, and staff members must use neighboring streets or their school site’s drop off and pick up zones. We understand that this is not as convenient as being able to park and drop off or pick up your child before and after school. I wish we had enough parking spaces for everyone in our incredible community. Unfortunately, this is just not possible.
Allowing parents and caregivers to use the front and back lot during drop off and pick up times has presented multiple problems including damaged vehicles, endangered students, and increased traffic congestion. In an attempt to resolve these issues, we have developed a new parking plan and a list of ways in which you can ensure the safety of our students before and after school.
As of Monday, March 14th, the rear lot will become a lot for staff members only. We are re-designating several parking spots in the front lot as “visitor” spots. The rear lot will no longer be open for parents unless there is a special event beginning on Monday, March 14th. I have placed a work order to have the spots re-painted. Until this happens, we will mark the new Visitor spots using chalk.
There is no magic button that would solve all of our traffic and parking problems. Believe me, if there was one, I would have pressed it by now! With your assistance and adherence to the above suggestions, we can make the situation better. I appreciate you taking the time to read this message and I welcome your feedback. You can email me anytime at

With gratitude,
Mrs. Green

Parking and Traffic at Joaquin Miller: How You Can Help!

Drop Off in the Morning
1. Please drop off your child using the Drop Off Zone while the Safety Patrol is out between 8:00 and 8:30.
2. Pull forward as far as you can into the Drop Off Zone prior to letting your child leave your vehicle.
3. Do NOT leave your car unattended in the yellow or red zones.
4. Do NOT park in handicapped spaces or the marked space in between these spaces.
5. Park in any available visitor spots if you need to enter the building.
6. Never park in a spot marked “STAFF”, even if it is empty.
7. Never drop your student off at the entrance of the parking lot.
8. Drive slowly and STOP at the crosswalk prior to exiting the parking lot on your way out. There is a stop sign there now!
9. Remember that you are at a public elementary school where children are present. Please treat each other respectfully at all times and refrain from engaging in verbal confrontations in front of children.

Pick Up in the Afternoon
1. Please use the drop off zones whenever possible to pick up your child.
2. Please do not leave your vehicle unattended in the red or yellow zones.
3. Do NOT park in handicapped spaces or the marked space in between these spaces.
4. Please cycle through the lot until you see your child(ren) if you arrive before students are dismissed on 2:50 on regular days and 1:15 on minimum days. (Kindergarten dismissal times are 2:30 on regular days and 12:50 on minimum days.)
5. Talk to your child(ren) about the importance of staying near the pick up zone after school so you can find them when you come through the pick up zone.
6. Please do not park and leave your vehicle unattended unless you are in “visitor” parking spot.
7. Park in any available visitor spots if you need to enter the building.
8. Drive slowly and STOP at the crosswalk prior to exiting the parking lot on your way out.
9. Remember that you are at a public elementary school where children are present. Please treat each other respectfully at all times and refrain from engaging in verbal confrontations in front of children.

March Principal’s Message

February 23rd, 2016

Dear Joaquin Miller Families,
I hope this message finds you and your families enjoying this incredible spring weather! It’s hard to believe we are already halfway through the school year. It’s been an incredible year thus far, filled with numerous opportunities to meet other Joaquin Miller families, celebrate our diversity, and support our school’s academic programs. The majority of these opportunities have been planned and organized by the members of the JMPTA Board, a body composed of parents and teachers who volunteer their time, energy, and enthusiasm to make our school community thrive. The board meets monthly and strives to evenly distribute the workload as much as possible. We also have a really good time with each other! To learn more about our amazing PTA Board members, see the bulletin board in the front hallway near the computer lab.
Per PTA bylaws, we need to form a nominating committee to assist with finding potential candidates for next year’s PTA Board. The people on this committee would have a relatively small time commitment and would not be signing up to be on the board. If you are interested in being on the nominating committee, please send an email to
There are a variety of board positions available, each with its own responsibilities. The positions include President, Exec. VP (shadow to President and President 2017-18), Secretary, Treasurer, Financial Secretary, Fundraising, Volunteer Coordinator, Historian and Parliamentarian. If you are interested in being on the PTA Board for the 2016-2017 school year, please send an email to
I hope you will consider joining the 2016-2017 JMPTA Board!
With appreciation,
Mrs. Green

Happy New Year!

January 4th, 2016

Dear Wonderful Joaquin Miller Families,

Happy New Year! I hope you have all been able to share some quality time with your families over the Winter Break. I was able to unplug for almost the entire break, and I am feeling reinvigorated and ready for whatever 2016 throws my way!

With each new year comes an opportunity to set personal goals and make positive life changes. After taking time to reflect on my first five months as Joaquin Miller School’s principal, I have established the following three goals for myself to strive toward in 2016.

1. Eat a healthier diet with fruits and vegetables. There are days when I have little time to eat, and I need to have healthy snacks on hand. This particular goal is especially important because I have Type 2 Diabetes, and I need to do a better job of monitoring my blood sugars.
2. Spend at least one hour daily enjoying quality time with my family. Trust me when I say this is no small feat! This means challenging myself to not use my phone or laptop for an hour every night.
3. Spend as much time as possible in classrooms. The best part of my job is getting to observe our incredible students and teachers in action! Unfortunately, there are often deadlines and issues that arise that keep me from being able to do this as often as I’d like. To remedy this issue, I will be modifying my current weekly schedule to allow for more uninterrupted time to visit the classrooms and do what I love!

I encourage you to engage your kiddos in a discussion about establishing meaningful academic, social, or behavioral goals for themselves in the new year. Their goals could include: reading at a higher reading level, doing homework without complaining, learning basic math facts, improving writing skills, following directions, or exemplifying one of the Wolverine Way core values while at school and at home.

We have an exciting several months ahead of us with the Spelling Bee, the Martin Luther King Jr. Oratorical Fest, a Family Loteria Night, the Book Fair, and the Joaq-a-Thon. Please remember to check your child’s backpack and Konstella to stay informed as to what’s happening at JM!

With respect and appreciation,
Mrs. Green


November 26th, 2015

Dear Joaquin Miller families,

I hope this message finds you enjoying a wonderful Thanksgiving vacation with your families. I was able to visit my sister and her family in Southern California and actually take a few days off!

As we enter the holiday season, my heart is filled with gratitude and appreciation for all of the love and support I have received from our Joaquin Miller community as I have transitioned into this new administrative role. I am honored to be a part of such a warm and giving community of parents, students, teachers, and staff that share a common desire to make our school the best it can be.

I would like to acknowledge and appreciate the incredibly dedicated teachers and staff of Joaquin Miller. I feel so fortunate to be able to work with such a talented, collaborative, and supportive group of professionals who are devoted to providing a well-rounded educational experience for ALL of our students.

I also wanted to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to all of the parent volunteers who support our students and teachers on a regular basis. Whether you drive on a field trip, read with students, help out in the office, or help on the playground, your assistance is invaluable. THANK YOU!

A very special shout-out goes to the chair of this year’s auction, Suzette Mohun. Suzette devoted a tremendous amount of time and energy into making the auction the incredible success it was! Thanks to her efforts and the efforts of ALL of the auction volunteers, Joaquin Miller students and teachers will have continued access to high-quality programs, teacher’s aides, academic tutors, living history events, and so much more! With the funds raised from this year’s “Raise your Paddle” event, we will be able to purchase new projectors, printers, computer speakers, Lexia licenses for new readers, outdoor umbrellas, and much-needed improvements to our big yard.

Last, but certainly not least, I must appreciate our AMAZING students! Every single day I come to work I observe students exhibiting the Wolverine Way, demonstrating kindness and empathy toward others, collaborating with peers, and striving for academic success. Keep up the AWESOME work!

With love and gratitude,
Mrs. Green