Meet the Teacher: Mary Ann

Mary Ann has an exceptional wealth of experiences and a wealth of science knowledge! Did you know that Mary Ann, Orchard’s science teacher of two years, enjoys zip-lining through the redwoods at Boulder Creek or that she will go whitewater rafting anywhere, anytime? Many know that she enjoys kayaking on the Monterey Bay or the Elkhorn Slough and listening to the birds sing and the wind rustle through the trees, but did you know that she also likes to knit and crochet in her spare time?

She has lived in California for 29 years, 25 of which had been spent as a middle school science teacher and garden coordinator at Stevenson School in Carmel. As the lead science teacher at Stevenson, she coordinated the integration of science curriculum from kindergarten through grade eight! Mary Ann designed the curriculum to allow the students to grow and develop at their own pace and stressed the importance of having as much hands-on experimentation as possible so the student would engage their curiosity and develop a love for learning. She was a perfect fit for Orchard.

Prior to living in California, Mary Ann traveled nationally and abroad. She’s been a zookeeper, an interpretive naturalist, a special education aide, and an elementary library technician. Be sure to ask Mary Ann about her days as a zookeeper and the big cats!

Her education includes coursework towards an MA in Science Education from California State University, Chico; Single Subject Teaching Credential – Science, Chapman College; BS in General Science, University of Iowa; Early Childhood Development Course, Monterey Peninsula College; and is a Certified California Naturalist!

Mary Ann displays a lifelong love of learning. She says, “I have continued to advance my education through courses throughout California given by my colleagues and peers in art, oceanography, and organic gardening. I have attended numerous Life Lab workshops at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Recently I became a Certified California Naturalist through the Pacific Grove Natural History Museum”

She lives in Pacific Grove and enjoys seeing her daughter, Kirsten, and son-in- law, Shon whenever possible. Likewise, they are world travelers with Shon having served as a Marine with stations in Egypt, Hawaii, and overseas conflicts. No longer in the military, they are presently living in Caracas, Venezuela, serving with the State Department at the U.S. Embassy. Kirsten is the founder of a non-profit involved in the video preservation of the arts, primarily dance, from cultures throughout the world. Mary Ann travels with them whenever she can.

“Thank you so much for allowing me to work and play with your totally amazing children. Every day is a wonderful new experience.” ~ Mary Ann

Mark Your Calendars   

APRIL 2017

3rd-7th: Spring Holiday
27th:  Capital Improvement Committee Mtg, 3:30pm

MAY 2017

3rd:  Kinder Trip Natural History Museum
6th: May Faire
9th:  4/5 Field Trip to the Tannery
9th:  Capital Improvement Committee Mtg, 3:30pm
11th:  Bike to School Day
26th:  No School (Staff Collaboration Work Day)
29th:  Memorial Day (No School)

June 2017

9th:  Performance and Graduation
14th:  Kinder Moving On Ceremony
15th:  All School Kayaking Field Trip
16th:  Last Day of School (Minimum Day)
16th-17th:  Sleepover (7pm-10am)


May Faire & Open House
May 6, 11am-4pm.

Come celebrate spring with us at our annual May Faire celebration. Enjoy live music, a Maypole dance at 1:30, puppet shows, face painting, kids' crafts & activities, local artisans, a big water slide (bring swim clothes and a towel). Tickets for food, drinks and activities will be available for purchase or you may bring your own picnic. Flyers are available in the office for posting.  Be sure to invite friends, family, and prospective students!

Alumni Corner

Ruby Nink, a 2008 graduate of Orchard School, member of the Nink Clan (6 kids), is currently studying nursing at Southern Oregon University (SOU). She is a member of the Hawaiian club, Bio Club, Outdoor Adventure club, and is on the women’s roller derby team in Ashland! Earlier in the year, Ruby played on the rugby team for OSU! She wrote that she is “super busy with school and work and is often busy from 6am to 10pm every day of the week! Ruby has helped out with aftercare and the summer camp here at Orchard School.

News Flash!
Karianna Crowder, 2007 Orchard Grad, has been accepted into the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University!  She has accepted and will be moving to Ithaca, New York this summer.

Wish List

Liana: Clip boards, Cover for larger iPad

Teacher Tidings


First Grade with Kenza:

Our leadership class has been filled with many opportunities to connect within our grade, with the other grades, and with our animal friends over the last month.  The first grades created deeper connections with each other by doing a partner activity in which they drew their partner's home, family, pets, and something they did not formerly know about them.  Once all had finished, they were asked to present their partner to the whole group.  Students were paired with students they did not usually connect with outside the classroom.  It was a great exercise and I will display their artwork in the math cabin.  I love their drawings!

First graders connected with the other grades in many ways.  On St. Patrick's Day, they joined with the rest of the school in watching Kathleen's beautiful St. Patrick's Day puppet show.  Over the next few Fridays, they connected with the 2/3 grade class, first making them fruit salad and whipped cream and hosting them in Roxaboxen.  The following class, the 2/3 hosted their younger friends by creating a treasure hunt, involving gems in eggs.  

Finally, we began to read the story of Black Beauty.  We realized that the book was originally published 130 years ago, and yet continues to capture our imagination and help us to enter the world of our animal friends.  Students loved the book about Mistakes as Opportunities for Learning and have requested that I borrow it from the library again.  The last mistakes we read about were penicillin and seeing eye dogs, fascinating stories.

Second and Third Grade with Liana:

In Leadership, the 2/3 continue with Mindfulness, Spanish games, and Responsibility.

We focused on the sense of scent to deepen our understanding of mindfulness through awareness. The children played a scent guessing game, and related scent to memory.  

Spanish Games-
We continue with Spanish vocabulary, specifically colors and animals. We practiced the conversational phrases,

“Mas despacio, por favor” (more slowly, please) & "?Como?” (Polite way to ask a speaker to repeat-What?)

We continue to support our school and look after our personal items

In addition, we enjoyed our visit to Roxaboxen with Kenza and the 1st graders. Before Easter, the 2/3 class organized a gem-filled egg hunt for the 1st graders. The picture shows Jaxson, Aoife, Finch, Coral, and Willa deciding how to fill the each egg.

Fourth and Fifth Grade with Manila:

This past month, the fourth and fifth graders practiced mindful seeing, smelling, and tasting.

In the mindful seeing activity, students were asked to more purposefully observe an object. Each group received a set of popsicle sticks, one for each person in their group. Students noticed specific details about their object and were asked to pick out their popsicle stick from the set. The kids did a great job of noticing differences and easily picked out their own stick from a group of four sticks. The goal was to strengthen their visual vocabulary and memory through mindful seeing.

The goals with mindful smelling included focusing attention on their sense of smell and on identifying thoughts and feelings triggered by various scents. I had the students smelling vanilla, coffee, chocolate, lemon, and cinnamon. It was interesting hearing all the different associations they had for the array of scents – some were reminded of specific people, others with a specific event, and many with a particular tradition or routine.

Lastly, we did mindful tasting where the students focused their attention on savoring a morsel of food (a piece of dark chocolate with quinoa). First, the students held the morsel and noticed the shape, color, size, and any markings. Next, they closed their eyes and focused on smelling the chocolate – thinking of words that described the scent or whether or not it reminded them of anything. Finally, they were guided to mindfully eat their morsel, to put it in their mouth, and not bite down. Did they notice a taste? Did their mouth water? They moved the morsel around in their mouth before slowly biting down, chewing, and swallowing. We talked about how eating food in this activity was different from the way they usually eat and about the benefits of giving attention to what you eat.

We continued to play team building games each Friday as well as feeding and caring for the animals.

Language Arts / Social Studies with Liana Gomez

Thank you to those who have helped in the rug room this school year. Your dedication is a benefit to us all.
It is wonderful to have Matt and Manila consistently support our students.
The Holmes family helps with the wash, and Mariko helps vacuum.
1st: Erin, Nicky, Cambria, Kari, Estella, Colby, and my mom, Virtudes
2/3: Katy, April, and Johannes
4/5: Janelle Bartlett

Science with Mary Ann Wilkinson

Two major events have occurred relating to the Science curriculum since early March. The fourth and fifth graders went to the Sierra Outdoor School for camp. Three days and two nights of new adventures in the mountains. So many activities to report, but some of the favorites were the high ropes course and zipline, (where everyone personally met and often surpassed their personal challenges), and the knapping of obsidian arrowheads. They also became personally introduced to a number of forest plant and animal residents including a beautiful Great Horned Owl. Of course there were lots of games, team challenges, and just plain fun.

Upon our return, attention turned to the upcoming Science Fair/Invention Convention. Scheduled the week after break, the goal was to finish as many projects as possible before break so families could enjoy their free time. Second through fifth graders could choose between doing an experiment and creating an invention. It seems the projects were divided evenly between the two choices. There were a wide variety of experiments and contraptions on display Thursday, April 13 after school. I hope you were able to enjoy this event.

The first graders did an extensive study of which objects would sink or float. After many prototypes created from a wide variety of materials, the final creations were tested and displayed at the Science Fair/Invention Convention. However, if you are a first grader’s parent or guardian you will know the coveted items to float down the playground stream are various and sundry bottle caps. I would like to thank all those who supported and encouraged the children in their chosen projects and all your positive comments to me.

It is always amazing to me what your children are capable of and their amazing thinking processes. Thank you.

Music Notes with Rolf Sandmeyer

Our beloved Rolf will be taking a medical leave from school through the month of April, and quite possibly, through the end of the year.  Our thoughts, prayers, and love are with him and his family during this time of healing.

You may send cards and well wishes for Rolf to Kiyomi (Kaia's mom) or drop them in the office for me to pass along to the family.  
Blessings ~ Manila

Kiyomi Kaneshiro
2431 Richmond Dr. #4
S.C.,  CA  95062

Drama / Circus Arts / Gardening with Rock Lerum

Focus has been largely on CircOrchard and the two shows happening last week! Future dates TBD.

Art with Valerie Phipps

We started the spring season discussing PAUL KLEE.  We critiqued his incredible art as we went over the difference between abstract art and surrealism.  The best part was sharing with the kids how Paul Klee mostly created ART on his own, creating hundreds of pieces of art without any outside views, advice or critiques. He also created on any kind of canvas he coul come up with.  We talked about how brilliant it is to create from within, from your heart and your own original visions and to always be creative as an individual.  Inspired by his masterful paintings, Senecio, and Castle and Sun, the students made beautiful portraits of animals and made their own Castles with enthusiasm.  It was a great opportunity to deepen our understanding on complimentary colors, warm/ cool colors and the importance of shapes and form.    

Before we parted ways for Spring Break, we started our next month’s exploration in eco friendly, earth conscious ART.   For the month of April, the students and I are dedicating classroom time to create Earth friendly projects using recycled items in celebration of Earth Day (everyday, right?).  So far, 1st- 5th graders made their own paint brushes using drift wood I found on the beach and other materials found on campus and in the art room.

The kindergarteners created textured collages on salvaged magnets, while the 4th/5th class made multimedia collages on handmade, cardboard canvases. First-3rd graders made handmade postcards out of recycled cardboard, recycled paper and old magazines.  We will continue with this theme until the end of April.  Another round of artwork should be coming home then.

Happy Spring and Happy Earth Day!  

“A line is a dot that went for a walk” - Paul Klee

Kindergarten with Rosy Weiser and Kathleen Avalon

Announcements — Kindergarteners have a field trip on Wednesday, May 3rd. We’ll be going to the Natural History Museum again but this time to learn about animals instead of Native Americans. We’ll leave school at 10:30, and I’m thinking to make a day of it and visit the beach across the street afterwards, so we’ll head home about 1/1:30. Let me know if you can drive and how many you can take.

Thanks to everyone who helped beautify the kinder garden today. I can’t wait to see how it looks on Monday. The extra effort you’ve all put in will hopefully give me and Kathleen the boost we needed to further beautify the space in the coming months and next year. Special thanks to Katherine for getting everyone organized and then going. You guys have all put in so much this year.

Two other upcoming events: Kinder cafe where the kindergarteners host a mini-restaurant for the 1st graders (tentatively scheduled for Thursday, 5/11) and kindergarten graduation ceremony and potluck — Wednesday 6/14 at 12:30, school day ends for kinders directly afterwards, about 2 — more details soon, please work on getting the day off.

Curriculum Update:

Language Arts:

Maxine’s grandma, Katy, finished the Sidewalk Circus activity with the children that I mentioned in the previous newsletter.  This involved letter, word and sentence matching games using the content from the collaborative story the children came up with after looking at the wordless picture book. It was a very academic endeavor, requiring maximum focus, and everyone got very involved. It was good to see how determined this group can be to finish a task and how eager they are to work hard. The key is to keep the doses small so that there is always a healthy balance between work and play, and also to make the distinctions between work and play invisible. They are one and the same in a rich classroom environment like ours.

We played letter bingo after the children created their own bingo boards and then traded with a friend. This was really good letter writing and recognition practice. We closely examined the letter E,e and it’s short and long sounds, as well as generally reviewing the different sounds the same letter can make depending on the word and its placement. We also reviewed the letter G,g, which most kinders were having trouble identifying and replicating.

Kathleen had the children make name banners using twigs for their letters.


I started reading a new chapter book, “Doctor Doolittle”. I clean it up a little as I read as it’s old fashioned and has some archaic ideas and language, but overall it’s an entertaining story, full of adventure and a central message that I can get behind — that animals have a language and a complex inner life if you only stop to listen to them.

I told a circular story called “The Rabbit and the Carrot” about kindness and giving, and then we performed the mini-play. The kids struggled mightily with cooperation and kindness during this endeavor and I’ll be refocusing on both of these things in the coming weeks — one step forward, two steps back…

Last week, I told Grimm’s The Queen Bee, also at the heart of it a story about kindness. It’s a complicated tale and I will be retelling it at least once in the next week so that eventually the kids can bring it home with them to you.

Kathleen continues to share puppet stories every week, many of them about springtime, like “The Little Brown Bulb Wakes Up” and the Greek story “The Goddess Estaria of Spring". There have been a number of birthdays and the kids have been part of her rainbow bridge birthday ritual. She performed her “Lucky Patrick” puppet show to the whole school for St. Patrick’s Day.


We took a break from structured number work this month but we are always counting, measuring, and working with numbers informally.


We’ve been working on observation skills — we went birdwatching, the kids chose a favorite tree and drew it in detail, being careful to look at the tree's actual features (bark, structure, leaves etc.) and not include ideas from one’s imagination in these “scientific drawings”. Separating the two is neither easy nor necessary at this age, but developing the ability to record what you see and to notice things is a useful skill to start working on, even in kindergarten. In this same vein, the children examined themselves in the mirror and drew self-portraits. Gary, Maxine’s grandpa and an archaeology/paleontology enthusiast brought fossils in to show and discuss with the kids. He buried fossils in the sand box and they all dug for them after his talk.


Valerie made sushi with the kids when she subbed for me. Rob came in to make Indian chapatis and hummus with us and Amy came to teach us how to make another Indian bread called paratha, gluten-free no less!


The kids finished their hand sewn pillows, stuffed with sheep wool, lavender, and ground corn. They will keep them in class until the end of the year to use at rest time. We made natural dyes and dyed eggs to put in their handmade Easter baskets that came home before break. We blew out eggs and Kathleen helped the children paint them and create an Easter tree with hanging eggs and handmade tissue blossoms. They also made felt banner stories with her, cutting out felt shapes and gluing them on to tell a story, and used an egg wash to glue tissue flowers to the classroom windows. And for St. Patrick’s Day, they wet felted gold nuggets.

Love Rosy