Community Newsletter-Week #30: Acorns (ages 5-7)

Community at TKG
Encouraging Percy!

The Perseverance of Percy the Turtle

“The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.” 

― Confucius, Confucius: The Analects

We can learn so much from nature when we take the time to slow down, listen, learn and know! I am so grateful for Park Days, because we are given time to do just that.

At Wilderness Park, I loved spending Deep Learning time at the pond watching the turtles. There was one observation that was particularly poignant. One older turtle was trying very hard (with such desperation!) to climb the stone bank of the pond to get from the water to the walking path. It was clear that this turtle had a GOAL, and climbing this bank was something it needed to do to reach its goal. Its claws scratched at the rocks, and I watched this turtle (whom we later named Percy) fall back into the water several times as his claws lost their grip. He kept at it. There were times when it would just stop and take a break… but it kept at it. It would get to the lip of the bank and FALL BACK IN! But it kept at it. I found myself standing and encouraging this turtle! “Come on! Come on! You got this. You can do it!” Soon a crowd of TKGers gathered: “Come on! Come on! Almost there!” And finally… finally… Percy made it! We cheered so loud… and I, personally, felt pride for this turtle well up in my heart. You’d think Percy’s journey ended there, but no! That was only a hurdle he needed to jump, an obstacle he needed to cross to continue towards his GOAL. He walked and walked with such determination. “Where are you going? Make room for him! Guys give him space!” So many of us were wondering, encouraging, cheering, and watching this turtle with such awe and with such respect.

Percy made a loop around a stand of trees and PLOP! Ended up right back in the pond on the other side of the rock and trees from where this journey of determination began. The crowd erupted in cheers: “Hooray! You did it!”

I felt so much of my human spirit connect with this turtle. Some days we wake up with a goal on our mind and a quest in front of us to get there. It can be really hard and exhausting… we will fall back sometimes… we may need to stop to take a breath and “recharge our batteries”. But we keep at it and there will be cheerleaders to keep us going! To remind us that we can do it! We can get there! No matter how long or short the journey, we will get there if we just keep going and then we can finally feel the cool water of completion flow over us, providing such satisfaction that meeting a goal and finishing a task brings.

It makes we think of our Sea Lab project and what a journey that was! We worked so hard for a long time towards one goal of making our very own sea lab. We met many frustrations and challenges along the way, but we kept at it. We stopped along the way and recharged our batteries and we kept going, determined to reach our goal. No one gave up. And finally: PLOP! We made it to the Thinker Fair and we were able to see the results of our hard work and hear the exclamations of respect and awe, including our own.

I wonder what Percy is doing now. I wonder if he’s made any more journeys up and around the bank. If he has, I’m sure he showed no less grit, no less determination – just like our Acorns showed for our Sea Lab Project.

With Gratitude,

Jill Vengerik, Acorns Teacher
Lena Garcia, Head of Education, Acorns Teacher
Trish Valdez, School Business Manager
Monica Evangelist, Board President
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  • Field Trip #6 – Mon 14 May, 9.45am. We will be visiting the Marine Mammal Care Center! Our theme is Environmental Stewardship. The MMCC is a hospital for sick and injured marine mammals that are stranded along the Los Angeles County coastline. Please see Jen Ceci’s email with directions (there is a detour). Please bring: $3 cash donation, water bottle and snack, lunch and sunscreen.
  • Monthly Community Meeting – Sat 20 May, 9am. For our final meeting we’ll be taking time to review our year’s learning and Summer bridge suggestions as well as share the latest organizational updates.
  • TKG Summer Camps – Registration is open for 1.Jul 17, Full STEAM Ahead & 2. Aug 7, Around the World in 5 Days. Register here and we’ll even offer you a fee for each friend/family who joins via your referral! Learn more here. More camps will be added!


  • PTs This Week
    • MON – Beadle, Ceci, Sclafani
    • TUE – Lee, Assadi, Kang
    • WED – Cater
    • THR – Sclafani, Ceci, Rossfeld, Schwartz
    • FRI – LaCour, Wilkoff, Beadle, Watanabe

  • Office Hours, Wed 2pm. You are welcome to visit us to have an open discussion about anything that is on your mind.
  • Enrollment Tours continue this week and next! Thanks for being so welcoming and open.
TKG Learn: Using Creativity to Boost Young Children’s Mathematical Minds


  • Passion Project Party – Sun 21 May, 10am. Bento Box Making. There is one more seat left! Please don’t hesitate to take this spot – contact Lacey.
  • % Night – Tue 23 May, 4pm. Get dinner at Chipotle and support TKG! Don’t forget to check the green monster for flyers. Also available via email or FB from Shannon.
  • School Holiday – Mon 29 May. Happy Memorial Day!


In Education News: Developmental Readiness
TKG Focus: Whole Child. TKG believes…what it takes to be successful in the real world extends beyond academic skills. Academic skills are but one part of the pie the that builds up the whole person including: collaborative communication, perseverance, empathy and courage…to name a few.

Learning Soft Skills In Childhood Can Prevent Harder Problems Later

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Academic learning is usually in the spotlight at school, but teaching elementary-age students “soft” skills like self-control and social skills might help in keeping at-risk kids out of criminal trouble in the future, a study finds.

Duke University researchers looked at a program called Fast Track, which was started in the early 1990s for children who were identified by their teachers and parents to be at high risk for developing aggressive behavioral problems.

The students were randomized into two groups; half took part in the intervention, which included a teacher-led curriculum, parent training groups, academic tutoring and lessons in self-control and social skills. The program, which lasted from first grade through 10th grade, reduced delinquency, arrests and use of health and mental health services as the students aged through adolescence and young adulthood, as researchers explained in a separate study published earlier this year.

In the latest study, researchers looked at the “why” behind those earlier findings. In looking at the data from nearly 900 students, researchers found that about a third of the impact on future crime outcomes was due to the social and self-regulation skills the students learned from ages 6 to 11.

© 2016 This information is intended for the families and students of TKG. We love our families! 2017 The Knowing Garden, All rights reserved.

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