Principal's Message

Dear Birney families,

Make sure you are receiving the weekly Birney Buzz updates via email. If you need to update your email and/or phone number, please contact me at your earliest convenience at [email protected].

I thank you all for choosing Birney as the best place to educate your children. I am proud that Birney was authorized to be an International Baccalaureate Primary Year's Program World School in 2009-2010, the same school year we were named a California Distinguished School - these are honors our school has worked hard to earn, and this hard work continues as we strive to be the best elementary school around. In 2019 we earned California Distinguished School once again, and in 2020 and 2023 two of our teachers were named International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme Exemplary Educator of the Year for California.

A lot has changed at Birney since I began as principal in 2002, and we continue to rise to the challenge of meeting the needs of a very diverse student population. While our relentless focus on student achievement has been reflected in yearly growth on the Academic Performance Index and under new measures we continue to celebrate our academic achievements, but growth in test scores is just a small part of what makes our school thrive.

You are an integral part of our program, and you are key to its success. Becoming a world-class organization requires teamwork, and we are better every year at working together in the service of our Birney students. Our motto is "Think globally, learn locally," which means we take into account the global perspective in addition to our own, and we recognize and respect the last thought in the IBO's mission statement which is that "Other people, with their differences, can also be right."

The Birney community thrives when everyone remembers to be caring, contributing and inquiring members. We acknowledge that academic success is paramount for all of us, yet the Birney goal is to also make sure that every child's time here is memorable, enjoyable and successful. Every classroom at Birney has an expansive library, in addition to the state-of-the-art central library with books, movies, and games. All classes are equipped with the latest tools to support and provide access to high-quality teaching and learning. Our learning environments are equipped with the latest technology, print and online resources to support student inquiry. Every child has weekly physical education, arts, garden, Spanish and other enriching active learning experiences. In addition, you will find plenty of after-school enrichment classes such as gardening, theatre and dance.

To make sure our community remains balanced, we have a tradition of school wide fitness events which are fun for the students and adults alike, as well as a daily running club with weekly 'mile runner' timed events. In the fall, we celebrate "International Day of Peace" by forming a human peace sign and taking a drone photo; in February we celebrate the Kindness Challenge with a human heart shape in the same way.  The March "Run for the Green' Jogathon is a major fund raiser, and our summer Field Day and "Jump for heart" celebrate student wellness. You can see we offer our students a variety of ways to experience success and the confidence that comes with it.

It is important for our teachers to feel valued as well. They benefit from at least two hours of weekly collaborative reflection time to plan and analyze students' progress while their students participate in enriched curriculum called 'Specials'; we find this to be a very productive time for teachers and students alike. In addition, each grade level has 60 minutes of preparation time by contract. Our teachers are also offered IB training as our budget permits, as well as on-site and district-based professional development. However, we find that the most effective staff learning occurs during the reflection collaboratives when teachers are analyzing student work, determining the next steps for instruction and planning for the IB curriculum collaboratively while their students are at Specials.

We work closely with our parent and community volunteers to maximize the many opportunities for our community's enrichment. Our successful PTA and Friends of Alice Birney Foundation (FOAB) have contributed enormously to our success, and we hope to continue to strengthen our partnership with our amazing volunteers. FOAB has committed to supporting our school financially in these tough budget times. Together, these amazing school organizations have committed together to raising over $150,000 annually in order to support our school with specialist classes, assemblies, classroom resources, field trips and the Birney library.

There is a village contributing to Alice Birney Elementary, made up of individuals and groups who consider our success important to the community; please feel welcome as you become part of our community; our school is a dynamic, busy place. We value your feedback, especially if it comes with a solution or suggestion, and we continuously strive to improve our school. We hope that this is evident in the progress made by every child. Each year we measure our success in many ways, using 'hard data' such as the standardized test data we receive every fall, as well as 'soft data', such as your comments and feedback or our students' reflections as they move through the grades.

I hope the information on this website will help you navigate the school year successfully, but if you can't find the information in here, please don't hesitate to contact me. You will also receive a weekly newsletter with important information, as well as regular phone calls and emails reminding you of calendared events. Make sure your contact information is always up-to-date. Please let me know if I can help you in any way, I am just a phone call or email away! Have a wonderful school year!

Ms. Amanda

[email protected]

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