Welcome back McAuliffe Community!

Classic Quotes from the week:
Have you ever heard a catchy phrase that just fits with where you are in life?? I’ve had a few zingers and I wanted to share them with you.

“You can’t build a house without swallowing some dust.” – Mike, a district employee, was digging up the parking lot to find a water leak to patch, when he shared that gem. We’ve all had more than our fair share on this project. It’s coming along and it is going to be fantastic! I can’t wait for it to be done!!

“Right tool for the right job…” – Demi. The wrench on my Leatherman snapped in two while I was trying to remove a nail sticking up in the asphalt. So True!! I laughed for a good five minutes on that one…after I found a better tool and yanked out the nail…

Hopes and Dreams:
The first two days have flown by! With the flurry of activity on campus, please take time to breathe and enjoy the sites and sounds as the new year unfolds.

Last night, I attended the 2nd grade class meetings. It was so nice to see old friends and new faces. Al-Husein caught me off guard when he asked, “What are your hopes and dreams?”

Sometimes being asked a question when you’re off guard is really the best time to answer.

I told him…and the rest of the 2nd grade parents, that my hope this year is that, in addition to taking care of the school, the kids, the parents, and our faculty, that I would also take care of myself.

Countless times, I’ve advised people that it is crucial to have balance in your life and like many, I struggle with that same issue.

So for me “taking care of myself” looks like exercising 3-5 times a week, spending time enjoying my daughter’s first year of high school and rooting for her in her activities. It means reading a few sci-fi books and learning to play my ukulele… at least a song or two. It also means making time to write and reflect on all the good that is happening in my life, and so much of that is due to being a father, having great friends and family, and being part of this wonderful community.

Thanks Al-Husein for giving me a chance to share! I look forward to hearing from you about your Hopes and Dreams! And on that note, if you haven’t already, I encourage you to think about your hopes and dreams for the year for yourself, your family, your child, and for McAuliffe. Share them with one or two people who can follow up with you and help make them a reality!

Thank you PFG!
Our staff was treated to a lunch provided by you, the PFG, on the first day of school! Our community is the best!

Welcome back everyone!


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Modernization updates at McAuliffe as of 7/23

VCT and tile

VCT and tile


Restroom tiled!

Restroom tiled!

IMG_2142 IMG_2193

More courtyard!

More courtyard!

Courtyards are coming together!

Courtyards are coming together!

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Measure H at work at McAuliffe School

Kinder 2015 Measure H Classroom Measure H 2015 Courtyard 2015 Measure H Courtyard 2015 Measure H Front of School  3 2015 Measure H Front of School 2 2015 Measure H Front of School 2015 Measure H

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Welcome Back!

Hi Everyone,

Welcome back from spring break! It’s hard to believe but we only have less than 7 weeks until we break for the summer. There is much to do and see and experience and learn in the weeks ahead! We have overnights, field trips, an art show, a learning day, middle school conferences, exit projects, and so much more!! Hold on to your hats! It’s going to be a wild ride. 

Amidst the craziness of May, grab a few moments for yourself. Reflect on the year and just how much your child has grown (physically, emotionally, and as an individual finding their way in this world). What is one thing that they did this year that completely surprised you? 

Have a wonderful weekend!



Before the break we announced that with the new kindergarten ratios, Sarah Flanagan’s departure for New York, and our two middle school teachers transitioning to a modified schedule, that we are looking to hire several great people to join our community.

Get the word out!

We are looking for exemplary teachers and Instructional Assistants to support the teaching and learning at McAuliffe. In particular, we are looking for:

One .4 FTE Middle School teacher (part time)

One Kindergarten teacher

Three IA’s (each 15 hours a week)

If you, or someone you, know is interested in any of these positions, please apply at the district office, and email me with the name and position you/they are interested in so I can be sure you/they get an interview.

What does the selection process look like?

In addition to the selective process our district employs, our interviewing process at McAuliffe is very much aligned to our philosophy. Highly collaborative teams comprised of parents, teachers, and the principal ask the candidates questions that are designed specifically to meet the needs of our student population and program.

Where are we so far?

I am happy to announce that the interview teams have selected two outstanding educators. Maria Yoo will join Jackie in one of the middle school positions and Susan Hedgecock will join us to teach 2nd grade. Both candidates impressed the committees with their thoughtful responses and positive energy and we are excited for them to begin at McAuliffe.

Welcome Maria and Sue!!!

Here are messages from them to you:


I am excited to become a part of the McAuliffe community and to team-teach with Jackie next year. I have been teaching in Cupertino for seven years, most recently at Miller. My background is in literature and journalism and my passions are creative writing, reading fantasy books, and training for triathlons. I am a mom of two girls, a kindergartener and a baby. I look forward to sharing my experience and to helping students discover their own passions. 


My name is Susan Hedgecock and this is my seventeenth year as a teacher in the Cupertino Union School District.  I have taught first, second and fifth grade at Eaton Elementary and before that, fifth/sixth grade ELD at De Vargas Elementary. My degrees are from Northwestern University which is located outside of Chicago, where I was born, and Santa Clara University here in Silicon Valley. Outside of school I enjoy gardening, DIY projects, motorcycle rides with my husband, and my first grandchild. Over the years, I’ve done my best to incorporate choice, inquiry and community building in my classroom and I am over the moon to join the McAuliffe School Community to share, learn and grow with you all.

Containers in the parking lot… what’s happened and what’s next?

Thank you!

Thanks to all of the parents who spent time organizing and packing our common spaces prior to the break. Our summer modernization plan is well underway!

Stage One… Check!

The first stage of moving is now complete. During spring break, 12 storage containers were placed in the faculty lot and the boxes from the PAC, UG, and Big Room were placed into storage.

The rest of the containers (8- 10) will be dropped the week before school gets out. The containers will be placed in the faculty lot and on our blacktop. We recognize that this isn’t ideal.  We spent a lot of time looking at options and timelines and determined that this was the best plan of action based on those choices.

Concerns around parking – Check!

One concern about the storage containers was the loss of parking spaces, particularly because we are a commuter school and parent participation is a key element of our program. I’m happy to report that we only lost four parking spots with the temporary addition! The faculty is looking at the current container configuration to see if we can add a few more spaces by parking outside of the lines in the staff lot.

While this modernization is unsightly and a logistical inconvenience, it’s a small price to pay for the exciting upgrades our school will receive this summer!






























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Story Corps goes to TED – The Power of Story

Congratulations Dave! I’ve been a longtime fan of Story Corps!!

I’m excited to try this new app out and hope to capture the stories of our amazing school community.

This will work wonderfully in conjunction with 1SE. I was inspired by the use of 1 Second Everyday app in the film Chef and hope to capture  a snapshot of McAuliffe history using it this year.


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You never know what you’ll run into on campus…Mind Blowing Stuff!

Yesterday, at recess, a 3rd grader stopped me and said, “Hey Rick! You gotta hear this. It will blow your mind.” Of course, I was intrigued so I asked what it was.

Student – “What is the decimal conversion for 1/3?

Rick – “.3 repeating

Student – “Yes. And what is the decimal conversion for 2/3?

Rick – “.6 repeating.

Student – “Yes again. But hold on. Get ready to blow your mind! What is the decimal conversion for 3/3?

Rick – “1

Student – “How do you know that?

Rick – “Because one rule in algebra is that any number divided by itself is one…

Student – “Okay…we can talk about that later, but your logic doesn’t stand because 1/3 = .3 repeating, 2/3 = .6repeating, 3/3 should equal .9 repeating…

Rick – “Whoa! You’re right! What does this mean?? We’ve been tricked!

Student – “I know! Right?!?!?

Rick – “Well I certainly wouldn’t want to use 1/3 or 2/3 in my calculations for building a space ship or submarine because then they might leak and we’d run out of air.

Student – “Not if you had an unlimited air supply.

Rick – “Hmm..good point, I’m not sure an unlimited air supply has been invented yet.

Student – “Still wouldn’t be a problem.

Rick – “Why not?

Student – “Because the atoms of air would be larger than the space the gap creates.

Rick – “How do you know that?

Student – “Because atoms have a molecular size that would be greater than the infinitesimally small gap that might exist if you used 1/3 in your measurements

Rick – “Hmm…Have you ever heard of Zeno’s paradox?

Student – “Sure!

Yard duty – “Hi Rick, You’re wanted in the office.

Rick – “Looks like we’ll have to take this up later.

Student – “Bye! (Runs off to play on the playground)

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The Great Escape…(aka Kinders Teaching Lessons in Yes And!)

In John Sturges’ The Great Escape, Richard Attenbourough tells his team of POW officers, “We’re going to devote our energies to sports and gardening…all the cultural pursuits…and meanwhile…we dig!” Little did John realize that he was setting the backdrop not for a World War II classic, but early morning in Vicki’s kinder class.

That day, my campus walk focused on PG & E’s handiwork. A few weeks earlier they had dug a hole in the sidewalk on Titus that was a hazard for pedestrians and large enough that it also caused a safety concern for the children on the playground. After confirming that PGE patched the hole and that the area was no longer hazardous, I made my way back to the main campus…down Titus and right onto our pathway toward the office.

As I made the turn, I could hear the sound of earth moving and little voices. I couldn’t see them because they were behind the hedgerow, but what I heard next stopped me in my tracks.

(Not being able to see them, I guessed that they were in the dirt/mud box with little shovels and/or sticks)

Kinder 1 – Hey! Good job digging that hole and putting it on the side so we can use it later!

Kinder 2- Thanks! You too! Keep digging!

(Digging sounds slow down)

Kinder 1-  Phew! This is tough work. Hey! If we keep digging we can turn this hole into a tunnel!

Kinder 2- Great idea! We can dig a tunnel right under the wall!!

(Digging sounds speed up)

Kinder 1- Yes!! And then we can dig under the fence and break outta the school!!

Kinder 2-  Okay! Let’s do it!!!

I couldn’t help but smile and wonder at what point two little, dirt covered kiddos would bust through the sod shouting “Freedom!” “We did it!”

There are many lessons I took away from this, such as: the joy of learning and working, the importance of creativity and imagination in life, teamwork, positive affirmations, reaching one’s goal often takes effort and energy, etc.

But the lesson that resonated most with me was “Yes, And…”  “Yes, and…” is a game in Improv that can lead to wonderful results.  Adults so much more frequently say, “Yes, but…”

I immediately connected this conversation with a conference I attended during the winter break. The particular session was on Design Thinking and while I will share more about that later, a key element of this process requires that we build on others’ ideas and they too draw on improv for this type of collaboration. For children this is easy, but as we grow older, accepting ideas from others and building on them becomes increasingly difficult. It’s no wonder that childhood is such an incredible time!

For those of us who lean toward “Yes, but…,” I encourage you to try “Yes, and…” this week.

Tina Fey’s, Bossypants (p84) offers a few guidelines for those of us who need practice in this:

  •   Agree
    • Respect the other person and start with yes.
  •   Say “Yes and…
    • Build on their ideas.
  •   Make Statements
    • Whatever the problem, be part of the solution. Don’t just sit around raising questions and pointing out obstacles.”
  •   THERE ARE NO MISTAKES, only Opportunities.
    • Who knows where this will lead?

Have a great weekend!


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