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Kerin Kelleher


Nov. 1, 2018


     Congratulations to our Harper Huskies.  We have just finished our first quarter of the school year.  It is a busy time of year for all of us.  Halloween has passed, and the days are getting shorter.  As I visit with many students and staff members they generally continue to be very positive and hard working. 


    Today 60 AVID students are on a field trip to UC Berkeley.  They will have a tour and eat in the dining commons.  Tomorrow our Choir and Bridge teachers prepare to take up to 100 students to a performance at the Mondavi Concert Hall.  And, all 7th graders and 50 Freshmen went on an all day hike in Marin County on Oct. 18th.  We had six busses carrying 260 students.  I share this with all of you partly to thank you if you have been a driver for any of these trips, or for any athletic events as well. 


Without you, our parents, these important experiences for our students would not be possible.  We also raised some needed funds for our athletic programs during volleyball and cross country thanks to your fair share donations.  Thank you again and again.  By the way, are you all aware that our cross country athletes were the 2018 YCAL champions this year?  Very cool!  Now, on to basketball and wrestling. 


     Below are some thoughts about grades and report cards since students will have report cards home in the mail during the next week.  I hope you find them helpful. 


Put grades in perspective.  Allow your child to own his or her own success or struggle in a particular class.  While it is tempting to want to do it ourselves at times, or to intervene at every turn, it is not in the teen’s best interest.  Discuss the grades, the course expectations, the child’s favorite and least favorite classes, and especially his/her feelings about the progress report.  Try not to overreact or under react.  Remain calm and caring throughout your discussions. 


Focus on the facts.  The report card you’ve received in the mail is based on a specific period of time.  It is not the final grade. A student’s grade may fluctuate as much as two or three full letter grades in a short period of time, depending on a particular test, or project, or an incomplete project. You may have noticed this if you are regularly following School Loop, which is designed to give you and your student current information.  It is important for students to learn that all assignments do count, as they walk through each grading period.


Look behind or through the grade.  Grades can be just one indicator of a student’s progress.  If a grade is not what you or he or she expected ask them what they think the problem is in this subject.    Often the problem is not academic ability, but possibly poor study habits, a lack of motivation, fear of failure, or possibly too many extra-curricular activities.  Asking your child if they are learning in a class can help you gage what might be happening day to day.  Asking them about their daily efforts and praising their efforts to persevere through challenging moments can go a long way to helping them gain skills and confidence. 


Monitor assignments and daily progress.  Each Harper student has a daily planner.  It is vital that students keep track of assignments on a calendar or in a planner.  Check your student’s assignment calendar and if you do not see recorded assignments, test dates, due dates, assist your child in getting into the habit of doing this each day.  If a child says to you, “My work is all finished”, please consider asking them to show you some of their work from time to time, if they are describing a class where they’ve earned a low grade.    Using School Loop to track assignments can be very helpful for you and your child, but keep in mind that not all work is recorded each day.  Teachers need time to read and evaluate student work.  We ask teachers to try and post every two weeks, and they make every effort to do that for your child. 


Assist your child with executive functioning skills.  A three ring binder with dividers for each class or folders for each class are survival tools.  Many students have difficulty keeping track of their work which results in confusion.  We’ve often seen students be aware of working on something, but forgetting to turn it in to their teacher.  They do have six or seven “work stations” and may feel confused and overwhelmed at times.  Establish routines and reasonable bed times at home.  Assist your child as they clean out their backpacks on a weekly basis.  Set limits on screen time.


Set realistic goals for improvement.  Don’t expect all A’s if your child is earning all C’s.  Help your child set weekly and monthly goals.  A single poor grade is not going to determine a student’s overall success in school.


Contact teachers.    Gather more information by asking teachers about their view about what is going on day to day in a particular class where a child is earning a low grade.  Seek help and try to understand, rather than attacking or judging the instructor and his or her methods.  Communicating through email is very helpful, but talking with teachers face to face can also clear up confusion.  I recommend that you include your child when meeting with teachers.  As a teacher and parent, I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to meet and talk, if there is a problem. 


Focus on the positive.  Talk with your child about where they are feeling successful.  Give them many opportunities to share with you what they are proud of at school, or during their extra- curricular activities.  Build on success and look for ways to reward improvement, effort, and perseverance in challenging areas. 

Being a successful student is important to a student’s self -esteem and future plans.  If you find that your son or daughter is experiencing failure or not doing as well as they might like in school, it is very important that we provide assistance to your child.  Call or email your child’s teacher, or counselor.  Seek help and follow through.  We know that this can be hard work.  At Harper we want all students to work hard, perform well and have a successful junior high school experience.  We are here to help. 



Kerin Kelleher


530 757-5330 x105