At Walden School, we believe in building intentional communities in our classrooms. We experience the power of collective wisdom when teachers and parents work together to support our students. At each of Walden’s three Back-to-School Nights, teachers presented an overview of expectations for the upcoming school year, shared some curriculum highlights, and answered parents’ questions.

At each Back-to-School Night, Director Matt Allio welcomed parents in the Toby Hayward Community Room, before parents visited classrooms. Read Matt’s Director’s Note published earlier this week to learn more about his address on finding our way.

Matt often talks about creating safe and predictable environments for Walden students, in order that the children may thrive. Part of that predictability comes from parents understanding the routines and rhythms of their child’s classroom. Back-to-School Night is one way for Walden teachers to share with parents what goes on in the life of a Walden student each day.

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FOOD – Fuel for School

September 25, 2015

Hot LunchAs educators, we believe there is a strong relationship between nutrition and learning. Our nutrition lessons emphasize the connection between the variety of foods needed each day to provide essential nutrients and how these foods affect the human body in its ability to process information, exercise, and perform daily tasks.

We can help children to learn about nutrition at Walden, but we need parents’ help. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and students who skip breakfast or who grab a sugary food like a doughnut are often tired and easily distracted by mid-morning.

We have four food policies at Walden that are enforced for the health and welfare of the children. The following items may not be eaten at or brought to School:

  1. Chewing gum – absolutely no gum is allowed at school before, during, or after school hours. It distracts many children from paying attention in class, and it gets stuck on shoes, carpets, chairs, and tables.
  2. Sodas, candy, sweet drinks, sugary foods – should these items be in your child’s lunch, we will ask that it be returned to his/her lunch box and eaten at or on the way home.
  3. Canned fruits or puddings – they can be hard to open, often have sharp edges, and leave a mess if they’re not eaten entirely.
  4. Frozen meals, “Cup of noodles” and similar foods requiring hot water or microwave access.

Additionally, while we cannot guarantee a school environment that is 100% free of peanuts, tree nuts, or other allergens, Walden School believes that partnering with the community and defining the responsibilities of the School and those of the parents and students will foster the safest environment for all students.

Given the presence of nut allergies at Walden School in our student body, peanuts, tree nuts, and any foods or other products containing peanuts and tree nuts are prohibited from all classrooms and class events that are off-campus, including field trips. If a staff member identifies a snack, treat, concession, or lunch brought into this area that does not follow these Guidelines, the child will be asked not to consume it, and it will be removed from the area. The parent/guardian will be requested to provide a replacement when appropriate.

Please refer to the online Family Handbook for more details on these Guidelines.

Nut-Free Zone

Walden Parents Dig In

September 18, 2015

Over the summer, the strip of grass between the sidewalk and the street along the front of Walden School was replaced with Kurapia (Lippia nodiflora). This new low-water groundcover was developed for drought conditions and is tolerant of a range of soils and harsh conditions.

UC Davis completed a multi-year study of drought tolerant plants and Kurapia was one of the top three performers. Dark green with small, white, sterile flowers, the groundcover plugs spread their leaves to fill in next to each other, but the plant is non-invasive, because it does not re-seed.

Photos courtesy George Do.

Walden parents recently dug in to help the newly planted plugs by pulling weeds from the bed. Once the plugs have fully matured, weed invasion will be minimized. “Garden work is always a good way to start the day,” said one Walden parent. Teaching that we all have stewardship for the world in which we live is a cornerstone of Walden’s mission.

Several years ago, Walden dance teacher Daphne and her husband, John, replaced their traditional lawn with Phyla nodiflora, a close relative to the Lippia nodiflora planted at Walden. Daphne praised the plant, saying, “It’s a tough-as-nails, no-mow, drought tolerant ground cover, that unlike a lawn, is ornamented with pretty white flowers. Even if the plant dies back from drought or too much winter cold, it springs back from the rhizomes.”

First Days of School

September 11, 2015

Walden School welcomed new and returning families over two days; K-6 students began classes on Thursday, September 10 and Pre-Kindergarten students started school on Friday, September 11.

Both mornings were celebrated with Bagels & Chatter events hosted by Walden School Parent Guild volunteers. Parents gathered in the playgrounds to share coffee and conversation, after the children and teachers went into their classrooms.

Bagels & Chatter Coordinators

Bagels & Chatter Coordinators

Walden values, respects, and supports diversity.  The school defines diversity as all the ways in which people may differ. Walden School’s diverse faculty and student body reflects the school’s commitment to honoring the uniqueness of every person and building an intentional community.

Family Photo Project

Family Photo Project

Principles of diversity inform how Walden teaches an awareness of self and others to children from Pre-K to sixth grade. Through curricular activities, project based service learning, classroom morning meetings, student mentors, and mixed age classes, Walden promotes equity, empathy, compassion, and dialogue.

Check out the First Day of School video here:


Each spring, members of the Walden School community gather in the North Yard for an evening picnic with Walden storytellers and poets, before heading to the classrooms to celebrate student writing with publishing parties at the annual FEAST on Writing.

FEAST (Families Eating And Storytelling Together) highlights the value of sharing stories through the lens of diversity. The event began almost two decades ago and continues to honor the story that exists in every child, using story as a bridge to understanding and awareness.

WE Co-Chairs Linda Bortell and Olivia Brown welcome people to FEAST 2015

WE Co-Chairs Linda Bortell and Olivia Brown welcome people to FEAST 2015

Walden School’s Board of Trustees Walden Equity (WE) Committee is pleased to publish an annual anthology of stories from Walden School student writers around the theme of diversity. The anthologies contain student stories from the FEAST on Writing event each year as well as stories selected by the faculty.

This year, families were treated to stories from Storyteller-in-Residence Stephanie Townes, Diversity Coordinator Billy Christian, and poems from 4/5 Teacher Tiffanie Hoang.

Storyteller-in-Residence Stephanie Townes tells a two-minute story about her friend, a worm!

Storyteller-in-Residence Stephanie Townes tells a two-minute story about her friend, a worm!


Poet Tiffanie Hoang (4/5 Language Arts assistant teacher) shares some of her poems.

Poet Tiffanie Hoang (4/5 Language Arts assistant teacher) shares some of her poems.

Diversity Coordinator Billy Christian tells a story about the day he got into trouble - twice!

Diversity Coordinator Billy Christian tells a story about the day he got into trouble – twice!

What is the legacy that grandparents leave for their grandchildren? The best legacy may be the love and time spent together, creating memories and sharing stories. At Walden School, Director Matt Allio welcomed over 200 grandparents and “grand friends” to campus on April 2, saying, “Your presence today, and throughout the lives of the students, amplifies the importance of our educational process.”

Students hosted their grandparents in classrooms and reprised their recent Spring Sing concert in the Toby Hayward Community Room to the delight of their special guests.

Grandparent Marguerite Lathan says, “We cannot wait to see our grandchildren’s classes, meet their teachers, meet their new and old friends, see their class works and performances!” Maja Dubois came all the way from Greenwich, CT to see her twin nieces. Grandparent Olivia Brown, who is also a Trustee at Walden, adds, “This is our favorite day of the year!”

Ron and Karen Dean look forward to this annual event. “It’s fun to visit with other grandparents and grand friends from all over the U.S. and other countries. The volunteers do an amazing job!”


More than 500 people crowded into Lanterman Auditorium for Walden School’s annual Spring Sing. This year, the show’s theme “Everybody has an LA Story” highlighted Walden students from all grades Pre-Kindergarten through 6th Grade.

Pre-K students opened the show with their rendition of Peggy Lee’s “Los Angeles Blues.” Kindergarten/First Grade classes explored the history of Los Angeles starting with the traditional song “De Colores” sung on Olvera Street followed by a contemporary tribute to the LA Dodgers. A third K/1 class highlighted their favorite animals at the LA Zoo with Leslie Bricusse’s song “If I Could Talk To The Animals.”

2/3 students performed original choreography set to student ORFF compositions. Drawing inspiration from the conundrum of water usage in LA, the contributions of local industries like JPL and NASA, and public transportation in LA, these students captivated the audience with their interpretive dance and music compositions.

The students in 4/5 classes paid tribute to LA musicians Compay Segundo, Brian Wilson, Chuck Berry, and composer Danny Elfman. The sixth graders closed the show with their salute to Hollywood.

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World Water Day

March 26, 2015

World Water Day was Sunday, March 22, 2015.

At Walden School, we teach that we all have stewardship for the world in which we live. What has your family done to address the drought conditions in Pasadena?  Take this quiz and share your ideas in the comments below.

Rainwater Harvesting Tank in North Yard

Rainwater Harvesting Tank in North Yard

Rainwater Harvesting Tank Lesson Plan

Rainwater Harvesting Tank Lesson Plan

Big Help

March 21, 2015

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Walden School Director Matt Allio defines “altruism” as a feeling or behavior that shows a desire to help other people. “Big Help is both a symbolic and practical way to demonstrate altruism,” says Allio.  Starting at 8:30 a.m. in the Toby Hayward Community Room on a recent Saturday, Walden students and their families came together to: collect books, toiletries, and food for a local homeless shelter; make Get-Well cards for children in the hospital; fashion fleece blankets for preemies; decorate and plant pots with flowers for elderly shut-ins; create cat toys and send to local cat rescue shelter; and deliver flowers to our neighbors while picking up litter in the local streets and alleys around school.


This annual event sponsors a variety of service projects in which all Walden families can participate. It’s not an all-day event, just some time in the morning for families to come together in support of others. Thank you to Walden School Parent Guild for organizing this day of service as a reminder that we all have responsibility for the world in which we live.

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Do you ever sit under a tree just listening to the sounds of nature around you? For how long? A few minutes? An hour? A whole afternoon?

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In 2005, author Richard Louv in his book “Last Child In The Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder” hypothesized negative consequences to people and to society as we spend less time outdoors in the natural world. In 2007, the Society for Conservation Biology published research that draws a connection between children’s increasing consumption of electronic media and declining visits to National Parks.

Without romanticizing history, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says, “free and unstructured play is healthy and – in fact – essential for helping children reach important social, emotional, and cognitive developmental milestones as well as helping them manage stress and become resilient.”

Spring in the Northern Hemisphere is recognized as a time of re-birth and new beginnings in many cultures. From Pesach and Easter to Nowruz and Higan, images in nature represent these holidays connected to the spring equinox.

Submit your photos of time in nature with your family on our FB page or write to us in the comments below!

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”
-Henry David Thoreau

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